Paving the Way for a New Museum

Project Overview

The Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) is Wisconsin’s Natural History Museum. As the beloved institution ushered in new leadership and set its sights on a new, state-of-the-art facility to preserve its millions of artifacts and engage future generations of scientists and historians, the MPM team brought on Mueller Communications to strengthen the Museum’s position among key stakeholders in order to gain momentum, support, and funding for a new museum, while continuing to drive traffic and engagement with the current museum.

The Challenge

Developing a new museum is a once-in-a-generation effort sure to present hurdles for any community. In Milwaukee – where visitors feel a deep sense of pride and nostalgia for an institution and its exhibits – the idea of bringing a deeply beloved Museum into the 21st century required careful and intentional communication. With the new Museum tentatively slated to open in 2026, MPM and Mueller Communications engaged in 2018 to develop long-term strategies introducing the need for, value of, and details about a new Museum over the course of several years in order to generate support from key audiences across the state.

The Solution

New Leadership Rollout:
While anticipating the rollout of MPM’s vision for a new, permanent home in Milwaukee, MPM was under interim leadership. Understanding the next CEO would usher in the Museum’s vision for the future, and be the face of community and fundraising efforts, MPM turned to Mueller Communications to roll out the news of MPM’s new, permanent CEO. Mueller managed a comprehensive media strategy, securing coverage in all major Milwaukee print outlets. In advance of media interviews, Mueller conducted a media training with the new CEO, guiding her through best practices and ensuring she was ready to address even the toughest questions. 

Milestone Media Announcements:
Over the course of the last several years, Mueller Communications has managed a steady stream of proactive communications to ensure MPM is top-of-mind among target audiences, especially those who have and will continue to play a role in developing and funding a new museum. From accreditation news, to process-related updates, to major news like site selection, and announcements of the design team, major donations and future gallery themes and renderings,  Mueller Communications has successfully blanketed local media with positive, proactive messages about MPM’s future home. 

Public Affairs Strategy:
Similarly, Mueller Communications has supported efforts to secure engagement and support from key decision makers at the state and local levels through the creation of collateral materials and strategic communication efforts in key geographies. Mueller was successful in supporting MPM in procuring $40 million in funding from the State of Wisconsin and $45 million in funding from Milwaukee County. 

Exhibit Marketing:
While excitement and anticipation for the new museum has grown, MPM continues to welcome new, innovative exhibits to the existing building. Seeking to drive attendance to these key exhibits – including Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition in Summer 2021 – Mueller Communications crafted and deployed a 360 degree strategy featuring earned media outreach and advertisements via social media, online and mobile display platforms, digital audio outlets, YouTube and Google. Those efforts resulted in more than 3,725,000 online impressions and helped MPM achieve its exhibit attendance goals.

The Results

Thanks in part to Mueller Communications’ ongoing, strategic support, MPM is heading into development of an approximately 200,000-square-foot museum with a groundswell of public awareness and support, well poised for the future.