LivingTravelMitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory

Where: 524 S. Layton Blvd., Milwaukee

Hours: Weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Weekends and major holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (hours extended until 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays during the Garden Train Show from January 20 to March 18 from 2018)

Cost: Admission fees vary, visit website for current prices

Contact: (414) 257-5611

Although officially called the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, most Milwaukee people refer to this interesting botanical attraction simply as “the Domes.” Architecture, design and gardening experts from around the world are probably familiar with this attraction because of its status as the only cone-shaped glass houses in the world. They are also easy to spot from several blocks away.

A popular venue for weddings, events, and a great stop-over for out-of-town people, the domes are a fun, laid-back place to spend an afternoon. Just look for the glass conservatory’s domed structures on Layton Boulevard on the south side of town. Visitors will find three distinct climates in the domes: one features a desert climate, another features a tropical climate, and the third, the Floral Show Dome, features rotating seasonal flower displays.

Although the domes are only a little over 50 years old, Mitchell Park is actually the oldest park in the Milwaukee County park system. Originally, the park housed the Milwaukee Conservatory, a traditional glass-style horticultural conservatory that opened to the public in 1899. The grounds also featured a large reflecting pool, fountains, extensive parterre gardens, and a sunken garden. In 1955, the old conservatory was razed and built in its place were three beehive-shaped glass domes.

In 2008, the domes underwent many repairs and their lighting system upgraded, including the addition of neon halo rings above each of the domes, which were made visible from a distance. In 2017, a new ‘Save Our Domes’ coalition was launched to ensure updates are made when needed in the future, in part prompted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation by naming domes to its list of 11 Most Endangered Places. of extinction.

Throughout the year there are several fun events organized at the Domes, including a winter farmers market (early November to mid-April), Art in the Green (May), the Mystery Chef dinner (September) and ‘Ghosts Under Glass and Day of the Celebration of the Dead «(October 26, 2018). For more information on seasonal events, check out the 2018 Domes calendar here. There’s everything from a Scrooge-related celebration in November and December to celebrate the Christmas holidays to a “Shakespeare in Love” flower show this spring (March 31-May 28, 2018).


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