The design of the structures permit over 85% of the available light to be transmitted to the plants through the quarter-inch thick wire-imbedded glass. With all this light, the buildup of heat in the summer months is drawn out with large fans. Each dome also has a complete air change in 3-1/2 minutes in spite of the 750,000 cubic feet area. The clicking sounds heard within the domes are the result of the expansion and contraction of the aluminum tubing as the temperature changes occur.
On September 8th, 1984, a formal dedication with Mitchell Park Domes visitors, staff and guest of honor, Leon Rajaobelina, Ambassador of Madagascar to the United States, celebrated the newly installed Madagascar plant collection in the Desert Dome. Earlier, Madagascar Embassy aide, Jocelyn Rafidinario, helped Domes horticulturists install several of the plants from the island-nation in the Indian Ocean. One hundred twenty-five plants were installed with other small specimens being nursed along until large enough to plant in the Desert Dome. Today, this collection of xerophytic (without water) plants is thriving!
The 2006 Falk Corporation blast didn't shake the earth enough for the U.S. Geological Survey to take any notice but it did register on UW-Milwaukee Geosciences instruments on the morning of December 6, 2006. It was reported that the explosion could be felt as far north as Port Washington, south as Oak Creek and west as Muskego. The 61-acre complex is located on 30th and Canal Street just a couple miles west of the Mitchell Park Domes where you could fell the explosion which lead to major glass replacement throughout the facility.
During the summer of 2008, improvements were made during a remodeling of the lobby, restrooms, gift shop, education center, director’s office and front desk. As a result of a $500,000 donation, a new external and internal lighting system was installed. On November 5, 2008, Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes welcomed visitors at the grand Re-Opening, with special guest, architect, Donald L. Grieb. The reopening revealed the new LED lighting system and light show. This renovation created a renaissance of green initiatives that would follow through the next six years.