Read all of our investigative stories on the new museum here.
The new Milwaukee “Public” Museum (which won’t really be owned by the public) is more than $90 million short of its promised $240 million fundraising goal, according to a new report.
The Milwaukee media have functioned as stenographers of museum press releases, periodically announcing new donations to the museum, most recently $1 million from Culvers.
However, a CBS 58 story on that donation revealed the museum has only raised nearly $150 million toward the $240 million pricetag of the new museum as of late October 2023 – and groundbreaking was supposed to start in December 2023. The museum’s website now says, “A formal groundbreaking ceremony will take place in spring of 2024.” It says the museum has raised $148 million.
Interestingly, in September, when the museum rolled out another donation – $10 million from the Kellogg Family Foundation – officials said THAT donation brought them to the $148 million. The discrepancy is not clear.
Of the nearly $150 million, $85 million is taxpayer dollars approved by Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin, although it turns out that Milwaukee County doesn’t have a signed term sheet with the museum for the grant, which hasn’t been disbursed yet, which is preventing County Supervisors from seeking an audit of the museum’s finances.
In a previous meeting, museum officials had indicated they would attempt to borrow the money if fundraising fell short.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the Culver’s donation will support a custard shop exhibit in what it calls the “spiritual successor” to the beloved Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit, which museum officials have admitted they will not be able to move. It does not appear that there will be a “spiritual successor” to the European Village exhibit or the historic murals, which the museum has admitted are not all movable, either.