Construction ahead of schedule of upcoming SOM-designed exhibition hall at De Pere

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Mulva Cultural Center in De Pere enters a new phase of construction, with its cast footings and a tower crane arriving on site in January

It will be the first of its kind in northeast Wisconsin, CEO Mike Van Asten said. National exhibitions rarely come to cities in Wisconsin other than Milwaukee and Madison, he said.

“There is a large population in the Fox River Valley here in northeastern Wisconsin, and this will be an opportunity for people living in the northern half of the state to experience some of the things that previously they should have gone to Milwaukee or Chicago or maybe Minneapolis for, ”said Van Asten

The $ 95 million facility will host a dozen or more traveling exhibitions each year, and it will include a movie theater, sculpture gardens, classrooms and a restaurant.

“So inside and out, lots and lots of stuff for people of all ages,” Van Asten said.

He plans to hire around 60 people to operate the center, and the facility is expected to have further impacts on the local economy.

“Certainly, being built in downtown De Pere, right on Broadway, the impact on gift shops, restaurants and other businesses within walking distance of the Mulva Cultural Center will be substantial,” he said.

Van Asten has worked with organizations like the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah and the Milwaukee Public Museum. The Mulva Cultural Center is special because it is dedicated to all types of exhibitions, he said.

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“The main exhibition hall is 12,000 square feet,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of the exhibits in this country are less than 5,000 square feet, so that’s going to allow us to bring in just about any exhibit that would be offered in the United States, and most of the time , we’ll be having two or even three exhibitions at the same time. “

COVID-19 slowed the design phase of the project, Van Asten said. A first shovelful of dirt took place in August and the building is expected to be completed by 2023. It is ahead of schedule due to a slight drop, he said.

He has already received requests for tours of the building, which was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The famous architectural firm is behind the One World Trade Center in New York, the Willis Tower in Chicago and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The building is named after its benefactors Jim and Miriam Mulva, natives of De Pere who have contributed to other projects in the area, including the Mulva Library at St. Norbert College in De Pere. Jim is a retired naval officer and former CEO of Phillips Petroleum Company and ConocoPhillips.


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