By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 22, 2021 at 2:02 PM

Governor Tony Evers has included $40 million to help build the new Milwaukee Public Museum in his proposed $91 billion Wisconsin biennial 2021-23 capital budget.

Last month, the museum and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, which will share the facility, announced the design and construction teams for the project.

“The inclusion of $40 million in the State of Wisconsin’s proposed Capital Budget is an incredibly important milestone in securing the future of the Milwaukee Public Museum, the state’s most visited museum,” said MPM President and CEO Dr. Ellen Censky in a statement Monday.

“Support from the State will ensure that the more than 4 million objects and specimens in our care, which come from every county in the State, will continue to be enjoyed and studied by Wisconsinites for generations to come.”

The total projected cost of the new museum, which will be located on the northeast corner of 6th Street and McKinley Boulevard, is $240 million, according to the governor's budget, including $170 million to build the new facility.

The site, near the Deer District, was announced in September.

In the budget, the new museum is referred to as "The Wisconsin Museum of Nature and Culture," though a museum source said that a new name has not been determined.

The museum is, however, looking at potential names that would reflect the fact that the museum serves the entire state.

Previous museum President and CEO Dennis Kois told me in 2017 that the museum is a state-wide institution and that a new building would require assistance from Madison.

"We are the only natural history museum of any scale in the entire state," he said at the time. "We serve every county in the state, we serve every legislative district, and we've got the numbers that we show every legislator to prove it. Our collections encompass the entire state."

The budget item, to be funded by General Fund Supported Borrowing, reads, "This request is to support the cost to develop, construct and equip the physical infrastructure of a new building to serve as the Wisconsin Museum of Nature and Culture."

“This is the first of several milestones in the Capital Budget process, and we look forward to working with Gov. Evers and the State Legislature to ensure the project remains in the budget, as every culture and corner of our state is reflected in the new museum,” said Censky.

“We believe pursuing bonded funds in the State’s Capital Budget is a smart, financially prudent way to plan for the future of this treasured Wisconsin institution and leverages the support of the private sector, which will fund a majority of the project’s cost.”

Evers’ proposed budget has now moved to Republicans in the state Legislature.

“We want to thank Gov. Tony Evers for his recognition of the importance of this statewide institution to Wisconsin’s past and its future,” said Censky.

“The museum serves visitors from every county in Wisconsin and almost every state in the country, including hosting school children from 44 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties for annual field trips.”

According to the budget item, the 230,000-square-foot museum would include 80,000 square feet of exhibition space and 43,000 square feet of storage and lab space, as well as another 40,000 square feet of offsite "deep" storage.

The Brinn would occupy 30,000 square feet, which would be funded privately.

The current 400,000-square-foot museum building, at 800 W. Wells St., has 150,000 square feet of exhibit space.

In September, Censky answered a variety of questions about the new museum facility.
You can read that post here.


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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.