Friday, September 14, 2018

Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee: Inviting Nature Exploration Year Round

A Morning Exploring the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin feature summer all year round.

Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee truly offer a splendid warm weather oasis throughout the year. This especially becomes enjoyable during rainy, snowy or cold days. When my daughter was younger, we took quite a few adventures to Milwaukee on cold days to enjoy the warmth and greenery of the Domes. We would couple the visit with a jaunt to the Public Market because who could resist? This week, we realized that it had been so long since our last visit. So, we seized on a free day to take a trip to Milwaukee.


Interesting beehive dome structure at Mitchell Park Conservatory.
Interesting beehive dome structure.
The Domes do look quite otherworldly and that itself sparks interest! Construction on the original Mitchell Conservatory began in 1898 with construction originally crafted to pay homage to London's Crystal Palace. Artist and blackmith Cyril Colnik forged the magnificent entry gates. The gates were removed in order to create a more modern conservatory in 1955. However, they remain on display in the Show Dome today. The conservatory was replaced by beehive domes with construction starting in 1959 after a 1955 design competition. The Floral Show Dome opened in 1964, the Tropical Dome in 1966 and the Desert Dome in 1967.

Lush greenery contrasting with the panes of class of the conservatory.
Lush greenery contrasting with the panes of class of the conservatory.

We first visited the Tropical Dome. The Tropical Dome is incredibly lush and has a lovely koi pond. Walking along the path, I felt that it was larger than it appeared outside. The dome shape is deceiving! Upon entering you can borrow a card to help you learn about some of the plants in the dome. But, many are labeled also helping. During our visit, the Domes were also home to dinosaurs. Another layer of fun!

Dinos Under the Glass in the Mitchell Park Domes of Milwaukee
Dinos Under the Glass a special exhibit through mid-October.

One of our favorite plants in the Tropical Dome was the Balloon Plant. The fruit definitely looks interesting!

Balloon Plant growing in the Tropical Dome at the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Intriguing fruit of the Balloon Plant.
The Tropical Dome features a variety of fruiting and edible plants such as the Black Pepper Plant. 

Black Pepper Plant is one example of edible plants in the Mitchell Park Domes.
Black Pepper Plant is one example of edible plants in the Domes.
We also paused for awhile at the koi pond and enjoyed seeing them swim.

Calm koi pond in the Tropical Dome.
Calm koi pond in the Tropical Dome.
Traveling Through Deserts in the Desert Dome:

Next, we ventured to the Desert Dome. The Desert Dome features caches of plant life from different desert environments throughout the world.

The Desert Dome at the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee features plants from a variety of deserts across the world.
Transported to another world in the Desert Dome.
One of our favorites in the dome was the Old Man Cactus. I mean, how could you not love it?

Fuzzy looking Old Man Cactus in the Desert Dome of the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Old Man Cactus in the house!
Overall, the Desert Dome presents an opportunity to see the incredible diversity of plant life in arid climates. We tend to only think about two or three types of cacti or succulents. But, look at the diversity just in one frame:

Cacti everywhere!

A Floral Show All Year Long in the Floral Show Dome:

Our final dome to explore was the Floral Show Dome totally full of vibrant blooms:

Walking through a brilliant garden in all seasons in the Floral Show Dome at Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Walking through a brilliant garden in all seasons.
Walking through the Floral Show Dome is like walking through a slice of garden heaven. Right when you walk in, you are swept away by beauty. The water feature is particularly stunning and I loved the vibrant blooms set around it.

Brilliant blooms create the perfect frame around the water feature in the Floral Show Dome at the Mitchell Park Domes.
Brilliant blooms create the perfect frame around the water feature.
There were a few elements of Shakespeare fun which were a nice touch.

Hello, Shakespeare!
We also found the extraordinary ornamental gates which once made an exquisite entrance to the conservatory. Just beautiful!

Exquisite entry gates for the Mitchell Park Conservatory crafted by  Cyril Colnik.
Exquisite entry gates crafted by  Cyril Colnik.
Right now, the Mitchell Park Domes are in the process of deciding a path forward in regards to repairs. Currently, there is task force working on options. Options include building a new conservatory. I do hope, however, they can incorporate the beehive shape somehow into any new design to keep this unique element of history. The Mitchell Park Domes are such a treasure and a true distinctive part of Milwaukee. Really one to keep on your list especially for the cooler months!


Everyday is like summer inside the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee




8 comments:

  1. It looks like a cross between the big domed building at the Omaha Zoo and Biosphere 2 in the Arizona desert! :)

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    1. They are an interesting shape. I am more used to the box frame.

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  2. I love the domes. Haven't been there in ages. It's like going on vacation!! Your suggestion to go in winter is perfect as I have only been there in spring and summer.

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    1. It is like a mini vacation! I miss going with my daughter when she was little. Nice trip down memory lane!

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  3. How cool is that?! I love that there is three different domes!

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    1. They are cool! They are in need of repair but I hope they can keep the beehive shape somehow -- that is what makes them particularly neat.

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  4. Neat! Where is this in Milwaukee? We traveled through this summer but didn't get to see these.

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    1. I am so beyond bad with geography in a city but this will get you there: https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Parks/Explore/The-Domes

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