Consider this your weekly reminder that the Milwaukee Public Museum as we know it won’t be around for much longer: On Wednesday, Northwestern Mutual announced a $1 million grant to the Milwaukee Public Museum. The grant “will support both MPM’s Annual Campaign and its Foundation for the Future Fund, which is dedicated to the Museum’s efforts to plan for its future development and eventually new location.” The future, Conan?

Yes, the future. In 2017, MPM announced it will move to a new, $100 million downtown home sometime in the next decade. Why? It seems that its 60-year-old downtown home is simply too old, too leaky, and too beyond repair. What’s more, the new home is expected to be much smaller—”in the neighborhood” of 250,000 square feet. A location has yet to be determined.

“We are immensely grateful to Northwestern Mutual for this generous grant and for the company’s ongoing support of the Milwaukee Public Museum,” says Dr. Ellen Censky, president and CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum, in a press release. “It will help fund the important scientific research, educational programming and current operations happening at the Museum today, while also allowing us to set our sights on the future.” The future, Conan?

Yes, the future. What will a 21st century Milwaukee Public Museum look like? Based on the comments on our previous museum story, people aren’t too keen to find out. But change is inevitable—especially when you’re up against leaky buildings—and all we can hope for is that the museum’s past will inform the museum’s future. We’ll miss the large, open, and mysterious spaces, though.

Here’s a press release, preceded by that howler monkey who howls at you when you push a button.

NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL MAKES $1 MILLION GRANT TO MILWAUKEE PUBLIC MUSEUM
Funds to support current, future museum

MILWAUKEE – Northwestern Mutual, through its Foundation, has announced a $1 million grant to the Milwaukee Public Museum, underscoring the company’s commitment to investing in Milwaukee’s cultural and educational attractions. The grant will support both MPM’s Annual Campaign and its Foundation for the Future Fund, which is dedicated to the Museum’s efforts to plan for its future development and eventually new location.

“Northwestern Mutual believes in the importance of supporting institutions that positively impact the lives of those in the communities we serve,” said Eric Christophersen, president, Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “Cultural attractions create connections, and this grant is made in recognition of the Milwaukee Public Museum’s importance to the scientific, education, and cultural landscapes of the state of Wisconsin, both present and for future generations.”

The Milwaukee Public Museum is the most-visited museum in Wisconsin, with more than 550,000 annual visitors. In 2019, students from 44 Wisconsin counties visited the Museum as part of 921 school field trips.

“We are immensely grateful to Northwestern Mutual for this generous grant and for the company’s ongoing support of the Milwaukee Public Museum,” said Dr. Ellen Censky, president and CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum. “It will help fund the important scientific research, educational programming and current operations happening at the Museum today, while also allowing us to set our sights on the future.”

While the Museum, with its 29 active researchers, student interns and academic partners, continues its scientific and educational operations, MPM is in the early stages of planning for its long-term future. The Foundation for the Future Fund, which includes this grant from Northwestern Mutual, will pay for costs associated with this strategic planning, such as developing a vision for the future, conducting feasibility studies, analyzing best practices and envisioning exhibit content designs.

Northwestern Mutual has a long history of support for the Milwaukee Public Museum, having made its first grant to MPM more than 55 years ago in 1964. In the years since, Northwestern Mutual has donated more than $6 million to the Museum. The support of Northwestern Mutual, through board service and financial grants, has enabled MPM to invest in exhibits, expansions and programming that benefits the Wisconsin community. The Museum’s newest permanent exhibition “Crossroads of Civilization” was made possible by a lead grant from Northwestern Mutual, and the Museum’s first blockbuster exhibition, “The Quest for Immortality,” was brought to Milwaukee from Egypt as a result of Northwestern Mutual support.

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