Hitchhiking Butterflies and Mammoth Skeletons at the Milwaukee Public Museum

Just a few seconds after I walk into the room, the butterfly attaches itself to my shoulder, where it remains for a good 10 minutes as I continue my stroll. Maybe it’s just drawn to the bright blue color of my hoodie, or to the heavy fabric, but I like to think it’s giving me a personal welcome to the Milwaukee Public Museum.

butterfly public museum

The hitchhiking butterfly ensures that I will have a good experience at the museum. How can you have a bad time when you receive such intimate approval from the animal kingdom?

The Public Museum is all about nature and history, so the indoor Butterfly Garden is a great way to get up close and personal with hundreds of winged creatures. The room contains a number of trees and plants, and you can observe the butterflies as you walk past the vegetation.

Before you leave the room, you’ll have to examine your body from head to toe in a mirror to make sure none of these friendly critters are trying to leave with you. As much as you might want to take one, they have to stay in their temperature-controlled environment!

public museum butterfly room

More Exhibits in the Museum

Next to the Butterfly Room is the “Bugs Alive!” room featuring all kinds of creepy crawlers. Don’t worry, they’re not roaming free like the butterflies. Look at all these huge cockroaches inside a glass case!

public museum cockroaches

At the top of the steps, you’ll spot a large skeleton of some sort of aquatic beast. It’s actually a 36-foot skeleton of a humpback whale, and it’s lit up like a Christmas tree at the top of the grand staircase, so you won’t miss it.

public museum humpback skeleton

Smaller skeletons of more familiar walking animals sit under the giant whale bones.

public museum skeletons

As you move into the individual rooms, you’ll find recreated environments from places all around the world. There’s a two-story Costa Rican rain forest, a Wisconsin woodlands room dedicated to local wildlife, and lots of African climates and scenes, like these fake rhinos.

rhino room - milwaukee public museum parking hours prices

One of my favorites is the Nigerian room, which displays painted masks and fascinating art from the region.

nigeria room

The famous Moai statues from Easter Island are replicated in another room, which describes the Rapa Nui people and their life on the famous Polynesian island.

public museum rapa nui

More sights from island culture. Skulls!

polynesian room

I also encountered Native American exhibits and a lot of dinosaur installations at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

And one of the most striking sights is right inside the front door – a cast of a giant hebior mammoth skeleton, found less than 30 miles from the museum.

public museum hebior mammoth

Milwaukee Public Museum Parking, Hours, and Ticket Prices

As of 2020, the museum is open 10 to 5 on weekdays. On Saturday, the facility is open 9 to 5, and on Sunday, it’s 11 to 5. The exception is the first Thursday of each month, when the museum runs extended hours from 9 am to 8 pm.

There’s a food cafe, a coffee shop, a gift store, and a candy store on-site, reflecting the fact that this is a popular kids’ destination. Regarding ticket prices, basic admission is $12 for kids and $18 for grownups. For an extra $6, you can see the Planetarium or the Dome Theater Show.

And as for Milwaukee Public Museum parking, the closest lot is the MacArthur Square parking facility. As of this writing, parking in that garage costs $5 for an hour, $9 for two hours, or $11 for up to four hours.

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