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Milwaukee Public Museum reveals butterfly, rainforest, rooftop spaces

Here we are, at the end of the more than two-month journey through the Milwaukee Public Museum’s unveiling process for its new home, dubbed the “Future Museum.” Today’s final chapter comes in three parts, details of which you can find below. Also, keep your ears open for a deeper discussion about the just-revealed galleries on this week's Urban Spelunking, which will hit your podcast feeds and our website Thursday morning.


The first thing that jumped out to a couple of us in the Radio Milwaukee offices was the apparent one-level approach to this gallery, as opposed to the ascending path you can take through the museum’s current rainforest setup. Like the existing one, however, the new space will be dimly lit (like a real rainforest floor) and have audio cues to make things more immersive.

On its website, the museum noted a few points of emphasis about the new gallery, starting with Cultural Connections. This approach will allow visitors to “learn about traditions and practices common in rainforests, including how natural resources support human health and healing through medicinal plants and provide raw materials for the creation of tools.”

The museum also noted the inclusion of Living Collections (real, live animals like poison dart frogs and tarantulas), a display of dozens of bird specimens that will serve as a transition from the Wisconsin Journey gallery, and a butterfly exhibit providing information specific to the rainforest and the insect in general.

Milwaukee Public Museum / Thinc Design

Puelicher Butterfly Vivarium

Speaking of butterflies, we already knew the real thing would make its way from Current Museum to Future Museum. Now we know what form that will take.

The Puelicher Butterfly Vivarium will connect to the Rainforest gallery as an enclosed garden featuring free-flying butterflies flitting about and making the more easily startled visitors (like yours truly) duck and flinch while their child walks around like it’s the most natural thing in the world to have insects dive-bombing you. Some of those fearless flyers will be the same ones you just read about in the Rainforest and will feel right at home thanks to the authentic tropical plants included in their museum home.

Milwaukee Public Museum / Thinc Design

Bucyrus Rooftop Terrace

This is, as the name suggests, a terrace on the rooftop. While that means no authentic tropical plants, it does provide plenty of space for Wisconsin plantings “designed to shift with the seasons.” It’s also more than enough room to hold outdoor classes and observations that give visitors the chance to interact directly with the natural elements while Giannis or the next artist to play a concert at Fiserv Forum beams at you from the digital display across the way.

Milwaukee Public Museum / Thinc Design

If you’d like to learn more about any of the galleries coming to the new Future Museum, visit the Milwaukee Public Museum website.