The Best of Milwaukee Public Museum

Mother and toddler son admiring a butterfly

Today I’m going to share our family’s little secret – our favorite destination in Milwaukee! In fact, we’ve frequented this particular place more than any other local destination. And the best part? It’s a place that’s fun to visit as a family, a couple, a group, or even solo! And bonus: what if I told you there are certain days you can even visit for free?! Jake and I have been frequenting the Milwaukee Public Museum since I moved to Wisconsin in 2013. Sometimes we go for the day, sometimes an hour. But there are portions of the museum that we never skip, even on our shortest visits. We’ve become self-appointed experts of the museum and have compiled a list of what we consider to be the best of Milwaukee Public Museum. Any museum is a lot to explore in a day, so be sure to visit my top five favorite spots at MPM!

#5: Herzfeld Hall of Science

This one’s pretty hard to miss! Once you hand over your admission ticket, you’ll head up a set of stairs and right into this area of the museum. Most people overlook it, but if you spend some time here there’s a lot to discover! We notice something new to us every time we hang around this area. I think my favorite to date are the pinned butterfly and insect specimens. It’s also one of my favorite spots in the museum for a photo op!

father holds toddler son in a museum
butterfly specimens of varying blue hues
Scenes to be found at the Herzfeld Hall of Science

#4: Rainforest

This exhibit is set up in a really cool way that immerses you into the rainforest. It’s split into two levels, so you will either feel like you’re exploring the rainforest canopy or the floor layer. The lighting is appropriately moody. As you walk through the exhibit, you’ll hear sound bites of rainforest wildlife. This is a great area for young kids to explore!

father and son examine a stuffed museum jaguar
You never know what you might encounter in the “Rainforest” exhibit!

#3: The Third Planet: Earth

This one’s pretty straight forward if you have kids. Featuring dinosaurs, this is another exhibit that is great for kids to explore their imaginations! My son loves to marvel at the big dinosaurs and we love the Ice Age room!

Tyrannosaurus rex attacking a triceratops museum exhibit
couple stands in front of a dinosaur vertebra
prehistoric skeletons museum exhibit
Scenes from “The Third Planet: Earth” exhibit

#2: The Streets of Old Milwaukee

If you find yourself at the Milwaukee Public Museum and only have an hour, make sure you spend some time at the Streets of Old Milwaukee. This is such a unique exhibit that showcases what Milwaukee would have looked like at the turn of the century. It’s a very immersive exhibit in which guests actually walk through the cobblestone streets of old Milwaukee, and can visit an actual candy shop and theater. Additional funding over the last few years has also made a couple new installations possible, including a trolley with virtual windows.

museum exhibit
The immersive “Streets of Old Milwaukee” exhibit

The Best of Milwaukee Public Museum: Jack Puelicher Butterfly Garden and the Puelicher Butterfly Wing

If you’re visiting the Milwaukee Public Museum, it’s absolutely necessary that you make time for the Jack Puelicher Butterfly Garden. Guests can learn about the life cycle of a butterfly and their habitats, but the highlight is being able to walk among living butterflies in this exhibit!

a black and white butterfly on a leaf
man with a butterfly on his head
various stages of cocoons
mom and son meeting a butterfly
butterfly on a woman's back

I have an annual membership to the Milwaukee Public Museum and Jake and I love that we can hop in the car on any given weekend and turn a boring day into a fun one with our membership! We’ve attended special after hours events and have even met up on our lunch hour to listen to lectures given by special guests. The museum has awesome children’s programming as well that we can’t wait to throw Owen into once he’s a bit older!

And here’s my best tip: the first Thursday of every month is free for all guests!

Comment below with any questions you may have regarding MPM, and I will try my best to answer them! You can also visit the official website at mpm.edu.

If you’re looking for more Wisconsin adventures, be sure to check out my post on The Must-See Attraction in Green Bay, Wisconsin!

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