The Milwaukee Public Museum is moving in 2027. In the meantime, here's what to know if you visit

The Milwaukee Public Museum has been a Milwaukee institution since it opened to the public in 1884. It's been in its current building since 1963, which has deteriorated to the point that the museum's accreditation was in jeopardy. As a result, a new museum building is being planned with groundbreaking scheduled to occur in spring 2024 and a planned opening sometime in 2027.

The new museum will have five permanent galleries. They are:

The new museum also will have a planetarium, a live butterfly vivarium, a rooftop terrace and two mixing zones dedicated to temporary exhibits, programming and rotating displays of artifacts and collections that are otherwise kept in storage.

Where is the current Milwaukee Public Museum and where will it be moving to?

The Milwaukee Public Museum is at 800 W. Wells St. The new museum will be at Sixth and McKinley streets.

How much are Milwaukee Public Museum tickets?

General admission to the Milwaukee Public Museum is $24 for teens and adults ages 14 through 64; $18 for youth ages 4 to 13; and is free for children 3 and under. Seniors ages 65 and older, members of the military and college students pay $20.

Milwaukee County residents receive a $2 discount when they present a valid Milwaukee County address.

People who receive food assistance (SNAP benefits) can pay $3 for tickets through the Museums for All program. These tickets must be purchased in person at the admissions counter and are limited to four per family.

General admission tickets include a planetarium program. Dome Theater film tickets must be purchased separately.

MPM memberships entitle holders to free admission for a year, as well as other benefits such as $5 parking, discounts on food and souvenirs, and free member-only events. Depending on the membership level, certain numbers of guests are also entitled to membership benefits. The cost starts at $85 per year.

When are the Milwaukee Public Museum's free days?

Visitors (excluding groups) receive free admission to the museum's permanent exhibits every first Thursday of the month as part of the Kohl's Thank you Thursday program. Reservations are strongly encouraged, and walk-up tickets are not guaranteed. Online reservations open up seven days before each Thank you Thursday.

On Mother's Day and Father's Day, one free adult admission per group of visitors is offered. To reserve admission, call (414) 278-2728.

What are the museum's hours?

The Milwaukee Public Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. The museum is closed on Tuesday. Members receive early access to the museum at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The museum is closed on Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, and it closes at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Evelyn Klausen, left, 13, stands behind a tree while her family, including her father, Daryl Klausen, mother, Amanda, and sister, Grace, 17, look at a dinosaur exhibit while in the Third Planet wing of the Milwaukee Public Museum.
Evelyn Klausen, left, 13, stands behind a tree while her family, including her father, Daryl Klausen, mother, Amanda, and sister, Grace, 17, look at a dinosaur exhibit while in the Third Planet wing of the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Where can I find Milwaukee Public Museum parking?

There is metered street parking around the museum that is free on Sundays. There also are a handful of structures and lots nearby, including the adjacent MacArthur Square parking structure to the north that is accessible via James Lovell Street and includes an entrance to the museum.

What exhibits are at the Milwaukee Public Museum?

The Milwaukee Public Museum's permanent exhibits are spread over four floors of exhibition space.

The two exhibits on the ground floor, as well as the museum gift shop, cafe and coffee shop, are open to the public without buying admission. The exhibits are:

On the first floor, exhibits include:

  • The Streets of Old Milwaukee, one of the world's first walk-through dioramas, which depicts buildings and streetscapes as they would have looked in Milwaukee at the turn of the 20th century

  • European Village, a walk-through exhibit representing daily life inside re-created buildings of 33 European cultures as they may have appeared between 1875 and 1925

  • Bugs Alive!, where a number of species of live bugs from Africa, Australia, Central America and Madagascar are displayed in terrariums

  • The Puelicher Butterfly Wing, a two-story glass-enclosed garden that people can walk through as butterflies freely flutter around (and regularly land on people)

  • Exploring Life on Earth is an exhibit that surrounds the Grand Staircase. It has split-scene habitat dioramas of the past and present of different environments — including the Montana badlands, a Costa Rican dry forest and Milwaukee's Menomonee River Valley — to show how they've changed. There are also exhibits that give visitors a sense of the vast collections at the museum and give an idea of the behind-the-scenes work of museum scientists and curators.

  • Rainforest, an interactive, immersive, walk-through exhibit that depicts the sights, sounds and life within a Costa Rican rainforest

  • The Third Planet, a series of exhibits that explore how plate tectonics have shaped the Earth. It includes a Silurian Reef diorama to show what southeast Wisconsin looked like 400 million years ago. This is also where visitors will find exhibits about dinosaurs, including the famous model of a T. Rex eating a triceratops.

  • Samson, an exhibit centered around an exact, scientifically accurate re-creation of Samson, the beloved gorilla who lived at the Milwaukee County Zoo for more than 30 years

  • Sense of Wonder is an exhibit curated in the style of late-Victorian-era museum exhibitions when artifacts were displayed without context. This is where visitors will encounter the museum's 36-foot-long humpback whale skeleton.

On the second floor, exhibits include:

  • A Tribute to Survival is an exhibition dedicated to relations between American Indians and non-Indians. The centerpiece of the exhibit is "Indian Country," a modern-day powwow grand entry scene with mannequins dressed in native dance clothing.

  • Native Games, an exhibit that showcases two dozen games played by Native tribes in the United States and Canada

  • North America has a variety of displays that feature taxidermy as they would look in their natural environments. There are also a number of displays depicting United States Native people and their traditional dwellings.

  • Wisconsin Woodlands, an exhibition that includes a "Birds of Wisconsin" display, mounted Wisconsin mammals and a section on Wisconsin archaeology

RELATED: Here's why lifelike natural history museum exhibits are referred to as 'Milwaukee-style'

On the third floor, exhibits include:

  • Africa, an area with several tableaux reflective of natural scenes, including The Savanna Bush, The Savanna Water Hole, The Salt Lick in the Bamboo Forest and The Maasai Lion Hunt.

  • Arctic, an exhibition showing how plants, animals and humans live in the region's harsh conditions

  • Asia, an exhibition including artifacts from the MPM China decorative arts collection, a display of a Japanese courtyard and a re-creation of a marketplace in Old Delhi, India

  • Crossroads of Civilization is an exhibition exploring the cultural contributions of ancient cultures in Africa, Europe and Asia. The exhibition includes two Egyptian mummies, an interactive timeline and a life-size re-creation of King Tut riding his chariot.

  • Living Oceans, where visitors climb a ramp as they look through windows where various under-the-sea environments are depicted

  • Pacific Islands, an area that displays objects from cultures in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, Indonesia, Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia

  • Pre-Columbian America, an area that highlights the cultures found in southern Mexico and northern Central America from 2500 B.C. to A.D 1500, including the Maya, the Aztecs, the Toltecs, the Olmec and the Inca

  • South & Middle America, an exhibition highlighting Latin American cultures, which includes a re-creation of a Guatemalan marketplace

The museum also has space on the second floor dedicated to periodic special exhibitions. Recent exhibitions have included "Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend," "Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family" and "Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition."

Is the Milwaukee Public Museum accessible?

MPM has a variety of accessibility initiatives, programs and features. They include:

  • Accessible entrances, parking spaces, elevators and restrooms. An all-gender restroom is on the second floor, and a personal cares room — with medical and adult changing supplies — is on the first floor near the elevator. A museum staff member must unlock this space for use.

  • Wheelchairs are available to use free of charge. A limited number of single-child strollers are also available.

  • A sensory room is on the first floor near the women's restroom. This is a space for people who need a break from sensory over-stimulation. Lights and sounds are adjustable.

  • Explorer Kits are available to check out. These kits include fidgets, noise-reducing headphones and Braille exhibit guides.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Your guide to visiting the Milwaukee Public Museum