Future of The Domes

Future of the Mitchell Park Domes

The Domes Feasibility Study

The Conservatory building complex includes three 50+-year-old display domes, a greenhouse and annex added in 2015, and educational and support spaces.

The display domes are in need of extensive rehabilitation, and many of the support spaces need repairs and updates. Planning is underway for the next chapter of this long-time Milwaukee attraction.

The Domes Task Force has been charged with reviewing the services that the Conservatory provides to the community, as well as providing a sustainable facility and operating model.

This page will serve as the communication platform for this project as well as the Milwaukee County Web Site.

Friends of the Mitchell Park DomesMilwaukee County Parks

Domes Task Force


The Friends of the Domes is a private non-profit 501(c) 3, established in 1989.   We directly channel resources that make possible many of the educational, scientific, and cultural programs held at The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. Our support complements, but is separate from the support provided by Milwaukee County.

While the ultimate decision on how to proceed with the future of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory will be that of the County government, the Friends of the Domes has a voice in the process as Board President, Roger Krawiecki, has a seat on the Task Force.

We see our mission in this process as one of keeping minds open to all options – rebuild, repair, rethink – and providing whatever support we are able to in moving this process forward.

We feel that our large, supportive membership sends a strong message to the County that a horticultural conservatory makes Milwaukee a better place to live and visit.

A vibrant horticultural conservatory is important to every community. Our Mitchell Park Conservatory

  • is an oasis in an urban environment providing therapeutic value of an indoor tropical and desert garden throughout the year
  • adds value to Milwaukee as a tourist destination
  • has a positive civic impact on the neighborhood
  • provides valuable educational programming for our school children
  • is a venue for winter concerts, holiday events, and the winter farmers market
  • is home to a 3.2 million dollar world class plant collection

In answer to the question we hear daily, “What can we do to help?”,  we say: “SUPPORT YOUR CONSERVATORY.”

  • Become a member of the Friends of the Domes
  • Be vocal in your support for the future of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory
  • Share your thoughts on the Domes.  Contact your County Supervisor
  • Attend the Task Force Meetings
  • Keep an open mind to the best option for a facility meeting 21st century needs and possibilities.

Stay updated on the progress of the County Board Task Force to identify options and develop a long-term plan for the Domes.
For more information please visit the official Mitchell Park Domes Updates page: http://county.milwaukee.gov/Domes

Meeting materials can be found by searching “Domes Task Force” on the County Legislative Information Center




    Save Our Domes Campaign “setting the record straight”
    From Sandy Folaron, Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory Director

    As we continue our journey engaged in the final phase of defining and looking at options for the future of the Conservatory, it is evident that there is confusion about the connection to the “Save Our Domes” campaign. Many people assume that this initiative and solicitation for support and donations is sanctioned and coming from the Friends of the Domes as well as the Conservatory staff here. It is not. This campaign is managed through the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (who have a representative on the Task Force) in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation located in Chicago. The Friends of the Domes (who also have a representative on the Task Force) have pledged to be open-minded and not take a definitive stand until all the facts and options are on the table. In other words; working through the strategic planning process put in place by the County Board of Supervisors.

    The Task Force was commissioned to be “objective” and to look at a wide range of options that encompass a variety of ideas for a sustainable future for the Domes. Certainly, preservation is ONE of those options, but as with any other alternative, you must also take in account additional facts and details that address structural integrity and status, operating costs, the life span of projected temporary “fixes” and the implications of ongoing facility inspections and maintenance to name just a few! There is so much more to be considered and understood before taking a position on the future course of action for the Conservatory.

    So yes, ask anyone if they would like to “save our Domes” and you will get a loud and affirmative, YES! Who doesn’t love the Domes? But that discussion needs to go beyond just the building aspect and include the work of the Conservatory and the value it brings to the community through horticulture, education, tourism, family-oriented events and programming. How can we do that better and make sure what we are passing on to the next generation is something that is not temporary and that they will use and treasure as we have? 

    Stay tuned, get informed and ask questions. Our future depends on it.

    Sandy Folaron