Accessible Art for All

Mulva Cultural Center to Open in De Pere

“Art is for everybody.” —Keith Haring

Artist Keith Haring famously said those four words decades ago, but they’re still reverberating now, especially and most recently just a bit north of the Fox Cities in De Pere.

The highly anticipated Mulva Cultural Center’s official grand opening date is December 8, a long awaited celebration of accessible art for everyone in Northeast Wisconsin and beyond.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for learning and engagement in a lot of different topics,” Thomas Shefchik, Executive Director of Community Relations says. “I am pleased to see that we’ll have opportunities for all ages and different interests… for adults, for children, things for everybody in between. It will really appeal to all.
“The ultimate goal is that we’re a destination on the arts and culture scene so that we can be drawing people from areas like Chicago and Minneapolis and further, but we know that we really want to be on the common thought process for people who are looking for something to do and we’re on that activity schedule around here. We really want to be accessible for everyone.”

The Mulva Cultural Center is a years-in-the-making powerful addition to the historic community where it hopes to combine history, culture and the arts to inspire, engage and transform.

Its De Pere address—with its rich history, views of the Fox River and downtown city charm—was no chance decision.

“The center will be located right at the bend of the Fox River that first became our center of commerce,” McKim Boyd, Mulva Cultural Center’s board member, owner of the Union Hotel and active member of the De Pere Historical Society, says. “This location, and the celebration of the river, is fundamental to understanding the history of our city. We are wise to ensure that our story of the past and our planning for the future is forever entwined.”

The Mulva Cultural Center is the vision of James J. and Miriam B. Mulva, De Pere natives whose immense generosity will provide world-class cultural experiences for generations to come. The Mulvas envision the center to be a catalyst for community investment and an anchor for De Pere’s ongoing vitality.

“This is their dream coming true,” Shefchik shares. “The genesis of this is Jim and Miriam’s experience. They had the opportunity to live in different parts of the world and experience these types of facilities, these kinds of exhibits. They wanted to bring that to their hometown so their community could have that kind of resource.”

What to Expect + Looking Forward

At 75,000-square feet with expansive glass and a sleek design, the Mulva Cultural Center building itself is a work of art, but by design, it also works with the surrounding nature.
“I think one of the first things you’ll notice is just kind of the natural look to it,” Shefchik says. There’s a lot of stone, and that stone was sourced locally out of the Wrightstown area. Our contractors have been top notch and the quality of workmanship is something that we really want to recognize. We have a lot of local contractors involved, and that was done for a reason. We are also very pleased with the level of the attention to detail and just the quality of craftsmanship.”

The building is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) based in Chicago, no stranger to creating one-of-a-kind, dynamic world-known destinations like the Hancock Tower in Chicago, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Chicago Public Library and the Los Angeles Museum of Art.

“The effort that has gone into getting the building built and ready to the utmost quality is great,” Shefchik says. “Their design is very classic, but very open and very contemporary at the same time. It brings in a lot of natural light and I think that was a key design feature. We wanted to have that connection to De Pere, connection to the river. With Jim and Miriam both being from De Pere, it was important to be connected to the environment around it.”
The Mulva Cultural Center’s uniqueness also lies in its “exhibit hall experience”: big, open spaces with no internal supports that creates an uninterrupted experience.

“Another of the really cool features is the outdoor areas,” Shefchik says. “We’re going to have an outdoor gathering area for about 150 people. Outdoor seating with fire pits and things like that. A viewing deck and a balcony… a public space where people can enjoy the outdoor garden areas. All free of charge.”

Some aspects of the building are noticeable, others are in the fine details that elevate it more subtly to the naked eye.

For example, 53 different types of exterior glass and finishes are used within the building, as well as museum-quality heating and air conditioning due to the extremely temperamental materials within the center.

“All of the glass has a UV coating that protects all of the items we might be displaying in the atrium,” Shefchik explains. “Although we have this huge expansive glass area, all of the items within are protected from UV damage. There are shades that go in that area. I would say it’s a very technologically advanced facility.”
Other unique spaces to enhance the guest experience:

State-of-the-Art Theater

A 200-seat theater complete with a 40×18 foot screen holds nine times the quality resolution than that of anything one can buy for their homes, and will be used to show things like documentaries and other kinds of educational films. The space also has the capacity for small music performances, speakers and authors and experts on a variety of topics.


Educational programming is an important aspect to the Mulva Cultural Center.

“We plan to offer educational opportunities that very likely will coincide with the exhibits,” Shefchik explains. “This type of facility also allows us to set up some summer camps and experiences for children. We really want to be a place that would be considered for field trips for different school districts.

Savour on Broadway (Restaurant)

Described as “upscale casual,” Savour on Broadway within the Mulva Cultural Center will include familiar menu items at great price points.

“‘Upscale’ meaning items like a Cobb Salad or a Club Sandwich just bumped up a little bit. Jim and Miriam wanted to see things on the menu that would be representative of Northeast Wisconsin,” Shefchik says. “The restaurant is open to the public.”

Splurge (Gift Shop)

“We want (the gift shop) to be a value added to De Pere,” Shefchik says. “We have a lot of strong, vibrant small businesses here and we wanted to make sure that we were part of the community. And so in particular with the gift shop, we wanted to have things that none of the local shops already had… the gift shop manager has been selecting those items, working with different artists for those, you know, maybe one of the hindsight pieces that people might be looking for, for a special gift or those types of things like that. There will also be items for sale that are connected to the exhibit… at different price points, different interests.

“Another interesting component that we want to do is work with companies around the area and be a source of either recognition for a visitor they might have or a special anniversary for an employee or for holiday gifts, things like that. We think that’s a great opportunity for us to have kind of a connection to our local business community in doing that.”

Inaugural Exhibits

Throughout the course of programming within a year, the Mulva Cultural Center will hit on the following categories: history, natural history, science, arts and photography, pop culture, world religions and immersive.

Clyde Butcher’s America: A Lifetime of Photography
December 8 through February 28, 2024
Clyde has captured the essence of our natural spaces and treasured landscapes in this photographic exhibit, whose content stretches from the Redwood forests of California to the Everglade swamps of Florida. His images document the changing environment, capturing what is there today and encouraging us to enjoy the beauty of wilderness. He raises awareness of our remote places, allowing us a serene adventure through his lens. Clyde’s images in this exhibition present the diverse locations of wilderness and respite throughout America and will enable us to appreciate the beauty across our land.

Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles!
December 8 through January 21, 2024

Curated by the GRAMMY Museum and Fab Four Exhibits, Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles! brings us back to the early ’60s when rock n’ roll emerged. This exhibit covers the Fab-four from early 1964 through mid-1966, the years Beatlemania ran rampant in America. Guests will “Twist and Shout” for the range of Beatles memorabilia, rare photographs and an authentic replica of the Liverpool Cavern Club.
“It’s going to cover some of those early years of The Beatles and Beatlemania as they came to the United States,” Shefchik says. “We will have John Lennon’s Rolls Royce inside the building. And the other part of that exhibit that is really important to us is the Grammy Museum. We’ll be putting together an exhibit of the 12 Wisconsinites that have won Grammys. That’s a really exciting opportunity for us.”

Evolution Dinosaur

February 28, 2024 through May 12, 2024
The most immersive dinosaur experience ever developed, Evolution will send chills down your spine with 30 hyper-realistic animatronic dinosaurs. Learn everything there is to know about Cretaceous Era dinosaurs through interactive tools in a one-of-a-kind setting.
“There will be 30 animatronic dinosaurs that will be set up and have an interactive experience,” Shefchik explains. “They will change and they move and the scenery changes… it’s really cool.”

The Bricktionary: The ultimate LEGO® A-Z

June 6, 2024 through September 2, 2024
Guests’ imaginations will run wild as they explore more than 150 custom-built LEGO® models, including some of the largest LEGO® creations ever built! Inspired by the book, The Bricktionary: the Ultimate A-Z of LEGO®, this exhibit showcases creations ranging from life-size animals to fashion and fantasy. Guests can even try their hand at making bricks inventions.


October 5, 2024 through January 5, 2025
Enter the waters of these fascinating creatures, more than 450 million years old. Sharks, created by the Australian Museum, which saw record attendance in its debut showing. Guests will experience breathtaking shark models, learn about 180 shark species “swimming” in an immersive setting, view shark artifacts, view displays about Indigenous cultures’ connections with sharks and the impact climate change has had on shark habitats. The Mulva Cultural Center is one of only four U.S. stops for the Sharks exhibit.

“This one is really unique because this is a great example of something that we otherwise would not be exposed to or have the opportunity to see unless we travel to Australia.

“We’re one of only four U.S. stops.”

Exhibits at the Mulva Center will typically last approximately 90 days.
“One nice thing is it will be continually changing,” Shefchik says. “It’s a great asset to the community because if you go and return in three months, it will be completely different.”

Mulva Cultural Center
, 221 S Broadway, De Pere

Building and Gourmet to Go hours will be:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-5 p.m.
Tuesday: Closed

Exhibition Hall and Savour on Broadway hours will be:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-5 p.m.
Tuesday: Closed

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