By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 01, 2023 at 9:27 AM

Milwaukee Public Museum has announced that it and exhibit designer Thinc Design will roll out design concepts for the Future Museum’s five permanent galleries over the course of 11 weeks, beginning March 7.

Some “Samples of each gallery’s many exhibits and the experiences visitors can anticipate will also be unveiled,” notes Wednesday’s announcement.

“Each announcement will provide an inside look at a sampling of exhibits, collection items and features visitors can expect to encounter upon the Future Museum’s opening in late 2026 as the design team continues its work to identify each collection item and exhibit that will be on display.

The five permanent exhibits are “Time Travel,” “Wisconsin Journey,” “Milwaukee Revealed,” “Living in a Dynamic World” and “Rainforest.”

“Milwaukee Revealed” is the replacement for “Streets of Old Milwaukee” and it, says the museum, “will immerse visitors in city streetscapes they can explore to learn about the history of Milwaukee, the people who came to settle and live here and its interconnected systems, neighborhoods and ecologies (and where future generations of children can shop for a sweet treat).”

That announcement will come April 14.


“Time Travel,” to be announced March 7, “is dedicated to exploring the deep past, including when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, through exhibits focused on three of the planet’s geological chapters: the Paleozoic Era, Mesozoic Era and Cenozoic Era.”

“Wisconsin Journey,” info on which is coming March 23, “is an entire exhibit floor focused on the geological wonders and strong and varied cultures of Wisconsin – from the Driftless Area to the Northwoods, the Apostle Islands, the Great Lakes and Wisconsin’s vast Prairielands.”

“Living in a Dynamic World,” announcing on May 9 along with Mixing Zones, “will take an unconventional journey to five distinct ecosystems across the globe and be immersed in the landscapes and cultures that occupy them. The Mixing Zones, including the Burke Foundation Mixing Zone, are two spaces that will showcase a rotating selection of collection items, offer spaces for public interaction and programming and turn the Museum “inside out” by providing behind-the-scenes views into the collections’ storage areas.”

“Rainforest,” Puelicher Butterfly Vivarium and the Bucyrus Rooftop Terrace, will be announced May 23. “The Rainforest will take visitors to the tropics to learn about the biodiversity that flourishes in tropical rainforests and the life rainforest climates support. The Puelicher Butterfly Vivarium will welcome visitors into a warm, lush greenhouse thriving with real tropical plants and live butterflies flying freely throughout the space. The Bucyrus Rooftop Terrace will be a gathering space to reconnect visitors to the outdoors and natural world.”

“Each gallery, and the many exhibits that comprise them, will tell a story about the interconnectedness of nature and culture,” said Oronde Wright, Senior Exhibition Designer at Thinc Design and a lead designer on the Future Museum project.

“In keeping with the singular, beloved energy of MPM, the Future Museum will also continue to champion immersive, interactive experiences that transport visitors to new places across the world and through time, spark curiosity and make the Museum such a special place to visit again and again.”

The announcements will not be complete details on the exhibits, but rather samples and selections, as many of the specific details are still being determined.

Details on the lobby, shop, cafe and museum programming will be announced at a later date.

“After much collaboration with community stakeholders, educators, tribal partners from Wisconsin’s First Nations, museum curators and scientists and many others, MPM and our partners at Thinc Design are excited to be on the cusp of sharing more details about the much-anticipated Future Museum,” said MPM President & CEO Dr. Ellen Censky.  

“We have aimed to create a future museum experience that honors the mission, history and legacy of the Milwaukee Public Museum. The iconic specimens and elements visitors love are being brought forward and reimagined in new, exciting scenes alongside collection objects that have not been on display previously. As part of one of the most highly anticipated milestones of this project, in the coming months we will give our community a first look at the stories of nature, culture, science and history the Future Museum will tell.”

More information about the new Museum, can be found on the MPM Future Museum website.

The museum also announced today that its $240 million fundraising campaign has drawn more than $128 million, including $45 million from Milwaukee County and $40 million from the state.

“The enthusiasm we have felt already from the community and from donors has been inspiring, and we are immensely grateful,” said Jay Williams, former Museum president and campaign co-chair alongside his wife, Madonna.

“Our hope and belief is that the momentum started by these bold, early funding partners cascades into further support from partners all around Wisconsin who will now see, more tangibly, how the Future Museum will create a multi-generational impact as a world-class educational institution.” 

There have been 20 gifts of $1 million or more.

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.