MILWAUKEE – Here’s a news scoop for you: the new Milwaukee Public Museum will include an homage to Wisconsin’s frozen custard history.
At an event Tuesday at the current museum building, leadership will announce new details about a custard shop exhibit that will be a part of the future museum’s “Milwaukee Revealed” gallery, made possible by a one million dollar gift from Culver’s and Culver family members.
“We are grateful for the Culvers’ generous gift to the Future Museum that will support our efforts to share more about the land-based processes used to make frozen custard—from cow to cone,” said MPM President & CEO Dr. Ellen Censky. “Culver’s dedication to the prosperity of the state’s dairy industry and hometown hospitality exemplifies the interconnectedness of nature and culture that we aim to weave throughout all galleries in the Future Museum.”
Fans of the current “Streets of Old Milwaukee” have wondered what the re-imagined version that will occupy the new museum would include, given that the current exhibit is not expected to make the journey to the new building due to several portions of “Streets” being built into the current structure.
A museum press release describes what visitors will experience at the custard shop portion of “Milwaukee Revealed”:
“Among the streetscape of the Milwaukee Revealed gallery, visitors will encounter a custard shop storefront with an exhibit inside that shows how Wisconsin’s natural resources and dairy industry fueled Milwaukee’s love for frozen custard and its iconic custard shops. Visitors will be able to enter the exhibit, where they’ll smell the sweet scent of freshly baked waffle cones and find a mix of vibrant graphics and historic photographs that give an overview of the creation of frozen custard. They’ll even be able to take their turn operating a custard machine that serves an endless loop of faux custard.”
“Milwaukee and Wisconsin have such a rich and deep history,” explained Craig Culver, Co-Founder of Culver’s. “It is a pleasure to support the creation of a Future Museum where exhibits will celebrate and share that local history. It’s especially meaningful that part of the Milwaukee Revealed gallery will focus on the history of frozen custard, one of this city and state’s great contributions to the dessert palate.”
What stands out among the official release notes is the last line of the custard shop description: “They’ll even be able to take their turn operating a custard machine that serves an endless loop of faux custard.” Recall at the current museum, visitors for years could visit the Haymarket Candy Store and purchase a wide variety of candies and sweets (the candy store structure no longer sells candy at the current building, but in the new facility “will be a functioning store in the Future Museum where shoppers can purchase a sweet treat”).
When it comes to faux vs real custard, museum Vice President of Development Julie Quinlan-Brame says it comes down to avoiding damage to all the other elements that will make up the new “Milwaukee Revealed” gallery.
“Throughout that ‘Milwaukee Revealed’ exhibit will be real objects from the Milwaukee Public Museum’s collection, so we can’t have food getting all over them and destroying that history” Quinlan-Brame told me at the announcement.
As for the fundraising efforts for the new museum project, Quinlan-Brame says with the one million dollars donated today, the museum is approaching 150 million dollars of their 240 million dollar goal. The building is still on track for a late 2026/early 2027 opening.