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Beauty and Nature Indoors: The Mitchell Park Domes

Dec. 9, 2012
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The Mitchell Park Conservatory—also known as “The Domes”—was built at Mitchell Park on Milwaukee’s west side. Mitchell Park was the earliest formally named parks in the city, and the land was purchased in 1889. The first Conservatory building opened about a decade later and was built as a traditional greenhouse style.

Throughout the next few years a fountain, water mirror and parterre garden (ornate gardens with paths between the flower beds) were built for general public viewing. As the city grew, plans for a new building to house the Conservatory were put into place. A design competition was held and the winner, Donald Grieb, was chosen.

Grieb’s design consisted on three bee-hive shaped domes to house plants and flowers from different climates. The domes were constructed from 1964-1967, with the Floral Show dome opening first. First lady “Lady Bird” Johnson gave the dedication to the Floral Show dome in 1965. The Tropical and Desert Domes were completed in the following years and boast 15,000 square feet of space to house plants and flowers in a beautiful setting.

Now commonly known as the Mitchell Park Domes, the structures were built of a concrete frame with approximately 2,200 panes of glass. The domes include lizards, frogs, toads and fish that reside among the many tall trees and plants. The tallest tree is the Kapok, which can be found in the Tropical Dome.

The Mitchell Park Domes are open daily and host a variety of educational programs and events, including  “Music Under Glass”—every Thursday evening with a live concert, dinner and drinks during the winter months.

One of Milwaukee’s oldest and most unique entertainment experiences, the Mitchell Park Domes host a beautiful and ever-changing display of plants and flowers. From The Sacred Fig to The Spiny Thickets of Madagascar, a trip to the Domes is sure to delight locals and visitors alike. 


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