The Mitchell Domes are a series of unique botanical gardens that are located in three huge geodesic dome-shaped structures. In the late 1800s, Alexander Mitchell, the region’s wealthiest man then, constructed the state’s first ever horticultural conservatory. The conservancy started with a model that resembled the famous Crystal Palace in London. However, in the year 1955, the structure was knocked down, paving way for a whole new design concept. This new concept was seemingly Ludacris, featuring 3 gigantic domes. The glass domes, shaped like giant beehives, were eventually completed in the year 1965, exactly a decade after the announcement of the contest, which featured a dedication-ceremony performed by Lady Bird Johnson himself.
This stunning botanical garden boasts more than 1000 plant species, all different in range. If you want a special tour, you can get detailed information from the separately-themed themes. The first dome features a tropical theme. The second and third domes feature an Arid Desert and floral theme respectively. The floral dome is highly floral, displaying rotating holiday and seasonal artefacts.
The glass, being uniquely and eccentrically designed, natural light to get transmitted to the plants. The unique design of the glass orbs allows 85 percent of available light to transmit to the plants, and large fans are used to draw out heat in the summer so the domes don’t overheat. The aluminum tubing on the structures expands and contracts along with the temperature, and visitors can hear it clicking as they walk through the gardens.
The Domes are a beloved icon of Milwaukee, but they are in peril. Preservation and restoration work is needed and the city is unsure of how to proceed. A task force is currently investigating options for the future, including shutting down the domes if the costs of repairs will be too high. Be sure to visit this mid century modern marvel while you still can. The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, aka “The Domes” is located in Milwaukee’s Clarke Square neighborhood. It is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm and weekends from 9 am to 4 pm. Be sure to constantly visit the destination’s website for an update on special events and any other relevant information.
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