By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 08, 2022 at 5:47 PM

When the Milwaukee Public Museum opens in its new building on 6th and McKinley in 2026, it will now do so alone.

On Friday, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum announced that it will not co-locate in the new building as planned, citing financial issues.

"The Board of Directors for Betty Brinn Children’s Museum (BBCM) determined that it is no longer in the organization’s strategic best interest to pursue a move to a new construction building at this time," reads the museum's statement, issued late Friday afternoon. It continues:

"As the planning process unfolded through 2021 and early 2022, budgetary calculations changed dramatically, both due to external pressures related to inflation and updated plans that would have called for additional costs to design and construct BBCM exhibits.

"These factors led BBCM to the difficult decision that it should not build and operate a new construction children’s museum as part of this project. BBCM will remain at its current location while it considers alternative opportunities.

"Both organizations wish each other the best of luck and much success as they move forward on separate paths."

According to Friday's announcement, issued jointly with Milwaukee Public Museum, MPM – which recently secured $85 million in funding from the State of Wisconsin and Milwaukee County – "remains committed to its new museum project, which has seen incredible progress."

“We are pleased with the progress we have achieved toward the development of our new Museum, particularly the enthusiastic public support both the State of Wisconsin and Milwaukee County have demonstrated as they committed funding for our project," said MPM President and CEO Ellen Censky.

"While the addition of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum would have added to the visitor experience, we understand that financial conditions have necessitated that they go in a different direction. We remain confident that visitors of all ages will be captivated by the new museum experience.”

Additional statements were issued by leadership from both venues as part of Friday's announcement:

Greg Nickerson, Board Chair, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum:

“Though we have been energized by the process of imagining a new space and the possibilities associated with co-locating with MPM, we also must be realistic and responsible financial stewards for the long-term future of Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. Given rising costs associated with our exhibit plans, the BBCM Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to withdraw from the project and rethink our future plans. We truly wish MPM the best and wholeheartedly support their project.”  

Brian King, CEO, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum:

“Conditions driven by the pandemic and the current inflationary environment have dramatically affected our exhibit budget projections, which were established back in mid-2020. For this reason, BBCM has decided we will no longer pursue co-location as a tenant at MPM’s new building; instead, we will continue to inspire children to wonder and explore their world through play in our current location.”

P.J. DiStefano, Board Chair, Milwaukee Public Museum:

“Planning for a new museum is certainly a challenge in the best of times, much less during a global pandemic and period of rising inflation. The milestones we have achieved in pursuing a new museum have required much creativity and flexibility, and we recognize that the BBCM Board of Directors knows what is in the best interest of their patrons and the future of their institution and we wish them the best.”

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.