A Look at the Future MPM’s Butterfly Vivarium and Rainforest Exhibit

It’s the last of the future museum’s five permanent galleries to be revealed. 

Milwaukee Public Museum revealed sketches of the future museum’s Rainforest exhibit, which includes a butterfly vivarium and rooftop terrace. It’s the last of the future museum’s five permanent galleries to be revealed. 

“Our Museum has long been renowned for its immersive rainforest displays, including our world-class live butterfly gardens,” Ellen Censky, president and CEO of MPM said in a press release. “The We Energies Foundation Gallery: Rainforest will again bring visitors to some of the most biodiverse and special places on the planet, spotlighting the rich resources and abundant life that thrives in the tropics.”



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Rainforest will feature dioramas of the tropics that will teach visitors about the biodiversity of rainforests and the living things within it. Visitors will be transported to the rainforest in the dimly lit space with large tree trunks and vegetation, as well as the sights and sounds of insects, birds and other “rainforest residents.”

And yes, the taxidermy howler monkey, sloth, anaconda and oropendola nests will be moving over from the current Rainforest exhibit. 

The collections themselves in Rainforest will include preserved specimens like venomous creatures and medicinal plants, as well as cultural items that highlight traditions and practice common in rainforests. The gallery will also feature living collections, the press release saying it will “potentially” feature creatures like poison dart frogs or tarantulas. 

The butterfly enclosure will be an extension of that space with real tropical plants and living butterflies flying around for visitors to observe. The vivarium will also allow visitors to look into an insect lab and pupae room, where they can learn more about the lifecycle of the butterflies.

Rainforest; Sketch by Thinc Design

The rooftop terrace will connect these spaces to the outdoors. Visitors will be able to walk and sit among the gardens, which will feature native Wisconsin plants that will shift with the seasons. The terrace will also function as an outdoor classroom and observation area, and it will serve as an event space. 

The four other permanent galleries for MPM’s future museum were revealed over the past few months, including Milwaukee Revealed and Living in the Dynamic World

Milwaukee Public Museum’s Future Museum Rooftop Terrace; Sketch by Thinc Design



Brianna Schubert is the associate digital editor and writes about art, culture and more at Milwaukee Magazine. When she’s not writing/editing, she’s likely reading (follow her book reviews on Instagram at @read_with_bee), cooking or listening to Taylor Swift.