Milwaukee Public Museum: Partners announced to design and build future home

MILWAUKEE – After an extensive international search, the Milwaukee Public Museum today announced the team that has been selected to bring the vision of its new museum to life in the coming years, as well as that of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, which will be co-located on the site.  Expert consultants chosen to design and oversee construction of the new museum include the teams at Thinc Design, Ennead Architects, Kahler Slater, Mortenson, and ALLCON. 

“As designing and building a new museum will have national and global significance and will be a point of pride for Wisconsinites for generations to come, we searched for the best talent both locally and globally,” said Dr. Ellen Censky, President & CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum. “We are thrilled with the group we’ve assembled and feel they will capture the interconnection of nature and culture through time and space using design as part of this exciting process.”  

Thinc Design will be charged with developing exhibit designs that bring together the cutting-edge style of exhibition Milwaukee Public Museum has been known for with technology to ensure visitors continue to be engaged and inspired for years to come. Ennead Architects and Kahler Slater will make up the architecture team, bringing together national and international expertise with local knowledge and creative ingenuity. Mortenson will oversee construction of the new building, using their experience in constructing complex venues to bring the vision of the community, MPM leadership, and the aforementioned creative teams to life.  Mortenson has teamed with ALLCON, a local, diverse, woman-owned general contracting firm on the project.

After reviewing dozens of applications and following a thorough interview process, MPM leadership selected the expertise of this qualified, creative team. They were chosen based on their outstanding museum portfolios, their experience engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders, their ability to reflect accurate depictions of the unique and diverse cultures of individual communities in the work they produce, and their ability to work collaboratively toward a final vision.

The museum intentionally brought the exhibit and architectural design teams on simultaneously so that the building itself reflects the content inside. These designers will embark on a process that builds on the conceptual work the museum has been doing and centers on the heart of the museum experience — the four million objects and specimens that tell the interconnected history of our natural and cultural worlds. The design teams will work collaboratively to create a museum experience in which the exhibits and building complement each other throughout the visitor’s journey in understanding the intersection of nature and culture. The Ennead and Kahler Slater team will additionally be focused on designing a vibrant space to house the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum within the complex.

Once the designs are in place, a highly experienced and locally focused team of contractors will build this vision from the ground up. The museum is committed to ensuring that diverse subcontractors are utilized and our local community is represented throughout the project. 

Choosing the consultant team is the most recent milestone in what is a carefully crafted, long-term plan for creating a new home for the Museum. The museum has been working with the Milwaukee Development Corporation to identify a suitable location and is expected to close on the acquisition of the site, located at the Northeast corner of 6th Street and McKinley Avenue, in February.  The design will incorporate sustainable practices and exhibit planning will actively move forward. Final cost estimates will be determined during the design phase. 

Additional Statements from Partners:


“The ability to design a unique space that encourages kids to explore new worlds and learn by making is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Brian King, Executive Director of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. “We are confident that this team of design and development partners will create a second-to-none experience to inspire our children while at the same time, supporting our local community through mentoring and skill development.”

Thinc Design: 

“We’re excited about MPM’s vision for a new museum that brings nature and culture into dialogue with each other,” said Tom Hennes, principal of Thinc. “Not only is this a way to enrich people’s lives, but it’s also a critical way for people to better understand their relationship with the living planet we all depend on.”


“We are inspired to design an architecture for the museum that furthers the understanding of the profound relationship between nature and culture for the city of Milwaukee, the state of Wisconsin and beyond. We are eager to engage local and regional communities to create an exciting, inspiring, accessible and sustainable public learning environment that is an authentic expression of its place and where science illuminates the stories of the past, present and future of our natural world,” said Design Partner Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects, the Design Architect for the project.

Kahler Slater:

“We are honored to be chosen by MPM as a partner who will help bring to life their vision for the future museum. As a firm that has designed significant civic buildings around Milwaukee and the State for over 110 years, we at Kahler Slater understand the importance and impact this once-in-a-lifetime project offers our community. Along with the rest of the team, we see this as a catalytic opportunity for the Museum to establish a unique center for culture, diversity, and science. We are especially excited to partner with Ennead and MPM to design a space which will spark innovation and opportunities for Milwaukee and the entire State,” said Kahler Slater CEO George Meyer, the Principal-in-Charge for the project.  


“We are proud to be part of the team that brings this new immersive adventure to our state and continues MPM’s legacy as one of the nation’s premier natural history museums,” says Scott Heberlein, vice president and general manager of Mortenson.  “We are energized by building the landscape of Milwaukee and enhancing the cultural and educational offerings to our community, families, and future generations.”


“This is a tremendous opportunity for ALLCON to empower ourselves by evolving our knowledge and abilities through this collaborative effort with Mortenson,” says Ana Lopez, president of ALLCON LLC. “We are part of a tough but rewarding industry.  Partnerships such as this not only allow economic opportunities for small and emerging minority businesses, but also bring rich and diverse perspectives and experiences to each project.”


About the Milwaukee Public Museum:

The Milwaukee Public Museum is a natural and human history museum located in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Museum was chartered in 1882 and opened to the public in 1884. MPM has three floors of exhibits that encompass life-size dioramas, walk-through villages, world cultures, dinosaurs, a rainforest, and a live butterfly garden as well as the Daniel M. Soref Dome Theater & Planetarium. The Museum houses more than 4 million objects and hosts some half a million visitors each year.

MPM is operated by Milwaukee Public Museum, Inc., a private, non-profit company, and its facilities and collections are held in trust and supported by Milwaukee County for the benefit of the public.

About THINC:

Located in New York, Thinc Design is a leading design firm serving clients in North America, Asia, Africa and Europe. For more than 25 years, Thinc has designed projects for a wide range of museums, science centers, aquariums, zoos, theme parks, corporations, and governments. Notable prior and ongoing projects include Expo2020 Dubai, Sustainability Pavilion; the Seattle Aquarium; the US Pavilion at the 2015 World Expo in Milan; exhibition design for the Smithsonian Institution; the National September 11 Memorial Museum; and the California Academy of Sciences. To learn more visit

About Ennead

Ennead Architects is an internationally-acclaimed, New York-based studio with offices in New York City and Shanghai. Renowned for its innovative educational, cultural, scientific and civic building designs that authentically express the progressive missions of their institutions and enhance the vitality of the public realm, Ennead is a leader in the design world. The recipient of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution-Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, the AIA NY Medal of Honor, and the National AIA Firm Award, as well as numerous design awards for individual buildings, Ennead has a body of work that is diverse in typology, scale and location, but rooted in a deeply-held conviction that the most compelling architectural expressions echo our society and culture and enhance the life of our cities. The firm’s collaborative process is based in extensive research involving the analysis of context, program, public image, emerging technologies and a commitment to sustainable solutions.

About Kahler Slater

Kahler Slater designs to enrich lives and achieve powerful results. Through architecture, interior design, strategic advisory, and environmental branding, Kahler Slater’s dynamic collective of marketplace experts and creative thinkers harness the power of design to move boldly forward. With clients around the United States, Canada, and Singapore, Kahler Slater designs for civic and cultural, healthcare, higher education, corporate office, residential, hospitality, and sports, recreation, and wellness sectors. Kahler Slater is known for leveraging design to help clients reach their strategic goals for advancing their organizations. They operate offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Richmond and Singapore.

Since their founding in Milwaukee in 1908, Kahler Slater has been trusted to deliver some of Wisconsin’s most transformative projects. Their reputation for skillfully designing, managing, and completing highly technical and politically complex projects is based on the success of their work around the State including the Milwaukee Art Museum Calatrava addition, Milwaukee’s BMO Office Tower, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Bradley Symphony Center, UW-Madison’s Kohl Center, and the Wisconsin State Capitol renovation. Now an international design firm with over 125 employees and five offices, they remain proudly headquartered in Milwaukee and continue to transform the landscape in Wisconsin. Follow Kahler Slater at, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

About Mortenson

Mortenson is a U.S.-based, top-20 builder, developer, and engineering services provider serving the commercial, institutional, and energy sectors. Mortenson’s expanding portfolio of integrated services helps its customers move their strategies forward, ensuring their investments result in high-performing assets. The result is a turnkey partner, fully invested in the business success of its customers.

Founded in 1954, Mortenson has operations across the U.S. with offices in Chicago, Denver, Fargo, Iowa City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Mortenson has been a staple in Wisconsin for over 30 years working with customers including Kohler Company, Advocate Aurora Health, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, the Milwaukee Bucks, and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. Mortenson’s Wisconsin team includes 250 craft workers and professional team members. For additional information, visit

About Team Diversity/ALLCON:

Mortenson believes long-term community impact results from integrating minority-owned and women-owned firms at every level of projects.  We have partnered with ALLCON, a local Hispanic, woman-owned general contracting firm.  Our collective focus is to provide a mentor-protégé relationship to build ALLCON’s capabilities and capacity right here in the Milwaukee community.

Established in 2009 and headquartered in Butler, WI, ALLCON LLC is a Hispanic, female-owned general contracting firm specializing in carpentry and electrical disciplines.