Sustainable Materials & Partnerships Highlights

MCM made investing in local materials a top priority.  There’s no better way to appreciate the quality of your materials than to reach out and touch them, to see where they grow or where they come from.  One prominent example featured throughout the building is the flooring.  MCM contacted the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association to direct us to cheap or free sources for quality hardwood.  At the time, ash trees were being cut down due to the emerald ash borer problem in the area, and a great deal of perfectly healthy wood could be claimed for little to no budgetary consideration.  Wisconsin woodlot owners made generous offerings, and flooring for the Wildernest was milled and kiln dried locally, producing a beautiful and durable surface.  Discarded gymnasium flooring from a decommissioned junior high was donated and used as flooring in the Possible-opolis exhibit, giving the reclaimed and recycled focus to the space further nuance and interest.

Airplane table

The wooden arches from a former Kohl’s grocery store were repurposed to create a suspended walkway in the Wildernest exhibit, and tempered glass salvaged from a revolving door on site became the Water Dome in the same exhibit space. Many of the materials for our wattle and daub activity huts and our slide area in the Wildernest exhibit came from staff members’ own backyards, and local masons helped MCM to select appropriate types of Wisconsin stone.  The Wayback Machine in Possible-opolis displays different retrotechnology attractions created by 10 local artists, including glassblowers, audio-visual designers, musicians and digital media artists who found novel ways to use their expertise in creating exciting interactive pieces.  Museum visitors helped make decisions regarding our use of space, too: We held elections for visitors under 18 to determine which of the exhibit elements from our former site should move to MCM’s new location.

The use of reclaimed, recycled, natural, organic, and/or donated materials is a standard in sustainable practices, as is choosing materials with low embodied energy.  Aggregating these materials from local sources takes that conscientiousness a step further.  Aside from hardwood, reclaimed materials and outmoded electronics, for instance, another example included in the long list of reclaimed and repurposed materials with low embodied energy is each restroom partition, manufactured from 100 percent recycled milk jugs, courtesy of the Bradley Corp. of Milwaukee.