MILWAUKEE (AP) — A task force has recommended that Milwaukee demolish its aging Mitchell Park domes and replace them with a $300 million building that would house the domes’ horticultural exhibits and the city’s history museum.
Milwaukee County supervisors formed the joint task force in October to study the possibility of building a new Milwaukee Public Museum at Mitchell Park, next to the domes.
The park’s three glass-and-concrete domes are in desperate need of repair with roughly $30 million in deferred maintenance, but cash-strapped Milwaukee County can’t afford their restoration, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The iconic structures were listed among America’s “most endangered” historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2016.
Barb Pahl, a leader of the trust, said demolishing the domes would be an irreparable loss for the community.
The public has voiced overwhelming support “for protecting these local landmarks from disinvestment, destruction and demolition,” Pahl said.
But the task force’s report suggests the domes should be torn down to make way for a “great cultural institution” that integrates the Milwaukee Public Museum’s existing collection with the plants inside the domes. A significant capital campaign would be needed to fund the project.
The museum has been planning to move out of its county-owned building, and museum officials were hoping to break ground on the project by 2022. The museum has already considered several sites.
Ellen Censky, the museum’s interim president and CEO, said the report has raised questions about the museum’s future home, but they’re still considering options.
The recommendation is just one of many that the Milwaukee County Board will consider regarding the domes, said Ian Everett, a spokesman with the Milwaukee County Parks Department. Another domes task force is scheduled to finish their discussions this fall.
“There are a lot of people who really love the domes how they are,” Everett said. “Whatever happens, there is definitely a need for some major fundraising.”