Milwaukee Art Museum Campus Extended

Posted on December 18th, 2017

Milwaukee Art Museum Campus Extended
O’Donnell Park, garage, and buildings added to Museum holdings,
unburdening the County of $28.8 mil in obligations

Milwaukee, Wis. – Dec. 18, 2017 – The Milwaukee Art Museum is pleased to announce that the acquisition of O’Donnell Park parking structure and pavilion, as well as the buildings the Museum occupies, will be finalized December 19, 2017. The transaction was approved by the Board of the County of Milwaukee in March of 2016.

The Museum is assuming full responsibility for the operations, capital maintenance and repair for the O’Donnell park, garage, and pavilion; the Kahler building, as well as the portion of the Saarinen building occupied by the Museum, relieving the County of $28.8 million in current and future obligations. The County retains ownership of the land.

“This transaction truly allows the Museum to control its destiny,” said Dr. Marcelle Polednik, Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director, Milwaukee Art Museum. “Immediately, we’re able to ensure that our campus is maintained, accessible to the public, and remains directly connected to downtown. With this strategic acquisition, we also open up possibilities for the future, envisioning how we can facilitate more activities, programs, and opportunities for inspiring community engagement.“

The Museum has added a facilities manager to its staff focused on the additional responsibility for these properties. Interstate Parking has been awarded the contract to operate public parking at both O’Donnell and the underground structure within the Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion.

“Our immediate priority is providing safe, convenient parking for all the attractions here at the lakefront,” said Jane Wochos, COFO, Milwaukee Art Museum. “We are grateful to everyone that has worked to find a solution that puts the needs of the community first while relieving the County of its large-scale maintenance obligations.”

All proceeds from parking fees will go towards a capital reserve fund dedicated to repair and maintenance of the structures. Maintenance for the Quadracci Pavilion, famously designed by Santiago Calatrava, will continue to come from the Museum’s general facilities budget.

About the Milwaukee Art Museum
Home to a rich collection of more than 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, annually showcasing three feature exhibitions, the Eero Saarinen–designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center and David Kahler‒designed addition. The Museum recently reopened its Collection Galleries, debuting nearly 2,500 world-class works of art within dramatically transformed galleries and a new lakefront addition. This reimagined space also allows for the presentation of additional changing exhibitions.


Fact Sheet:
– This is a no-cash transaction.
– The Milwaukee Art Museum is taking on $28.8 million of current and future maintenance and repair obligations in exchange for control of the buildings and park.
– O’Donnell Park includes the structures and public recreational areas between East Michigan Street, North Lincoln Memorial Drive, North Prospect Avenue, and East Mason Street.
– No dramatic landscaping changes or additional structures are planned in the immediate future for O’Donnell Park. The Museum’s near-term priorities are providing functional, safe, readily available parking and recreation areas for the community.
– Cleaning and minor repairs will begin immediately, with plans for updated parking equipment and signage expected to be installed in the next three months.
– Under the terms of the agreement, the War Memorial also gains ownership of the sections of the Saarinen Building that it occupies.
– The Milwaukee Art Museum will become the leaseholder for Coast (Zilli Hospitality Group) and Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. No immediate change in occupancy for the spaces are planned.
– The current lease for Betty Brinn Children’s Museum gives them the option to extend through 2033.
– Negotiations are underway with Zilli Hospitality Group for the space currently occupied by Coast restaurant.
– There are no plans for increases in parking costs in the near future.
– There is no current plan for fundraising or use of endowment funds by the Museum to support the parking structure, park, or pavilion.
– The Milwaukee Art Museum is a private, 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, with 65 percent of its current expenses covered by donations, sponsorships, memberships, and Museum admissions fees.
– The Milwaukee Art Museum currently receives $1.1 million in funding annually from the County through 2023, expected to lower to $500,000 per year through 2033.
– The details of this transaction were addressed in Milwaukee County Board Resolution 15-260.