Reimagined Outdoor Community Space to Create Regional Destination and Hydrangea Haven

    MOWA is pleased to announce plans to create a valuable outdoor community space and national destination in the heart of downtown West Bend. Breaking ground in the spring of 2018, the Cultural Campus will be located on a four-acre site that includes MOWA’s existing building and all of the surrounding green space east of the Milwaukee River from HWY 33 to Water Street. The landscaping design will transform the space with groves of 362 quaking Aspen trees, 1,200 hydrangeas, luminous nighttime up-lighting, and interconnected walkways. 



    In 2016, MOWA purchased two additional acres of land south of its existing building from the City of West Bend. The area had been vacant since the former Field’s Furniture building and outlet mall was demolished in 2007. This area will become the centerpiece of the Cultural Campus with walkways and adjacent bridges that connect the site to the downtown. Also in 2016, MOWA created a Cultural Campus Committee to work on the purchase and related fundraising for the property in question and to identify the needs and goals for the new campus. Among the objectives that have been identified are the following:

    • Orient the campus toward the Milwaukee River to increase visual aesthetics and sight lines
    • Maintain sufficient green space to accommodate special events and fundraisers (tent capacity up to 550 people), festivals, and programs
    • Incorporate interlocking sidewalks to enhance wayfinding and connect campus, museum, parking, public bike path, and downtown district
    • Create a regional destination
    • Create a multipurpose courtyard on the east side of the museum building
    • Incorporate lighting and electricity for enhanced functionality and security
    • Integrate a state-of-the-art irrigation system and maintenance plan





    MOWA selected architect Jim Shields of HGA to lead the project. Shields led the design of MOWA’s new 32,000-square-foot facility which opened in April 2013. He has developed the Cultural Campus concepts and will oversee the project in its entirety. MOWA aims for the Cultural Campus to become a national destination for its new hydrangea haven, particularly during the peak months of July through September. Hydrangeas are bold in look and feel and their visual impact will complement the white palette of the museum’s building. Their blooms will attract insects, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Landscape architect Judith Stark will oversee the softscaping elements, irrigation system design, and will develop an ongoing maintenance plan. Stark will consult on the selection of hydrangeas to maximize visual impact and growth. 

    Learn more about the project