Indigenous Art Installation Request for Proposals

Project Description

In 2027, the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) will open the doors to its newly constructed home in downtown Milwaukee. This exciting project, referred to as the Future Museum, includes a 200,000-square-foot building inspired by the unique rock formations at Mill Bluff State Park in central Wisconsin as well as the confluence of Milwaukee's three rivers.
The five-story building will feature four floors of exhibits, a rooftop terrace and enclosed butterfly garden, a planetarium, gift shop, café, attached parking garage, and a community green space called the Plaza.

In a primary location within the Plaza, an installation will honor Wisconsin’s First Nations and welcome more than 500,000 visitors each year. The Museum seeks to hire an Indigenous artist to design and oversee installation of this piece of art.


Visitors to the Future Museum will learn about the many intersections of nature and culture, both here in Milwaukee and Wisconsin and throughout the world. We are a part of nature, and our environment shapes our cultures as much as our cultures shape our environment. These inspirational stories will be shared in five permanent exhibit galleries throughout the Museum.

An important feature of the Museum is the Garden Plaza. This green space will be used for outdoor learning and engagement focused on nature. The Garden Plaza will help visitors make deep connections between themselves and their environment, extending beyond the nature/culture intersections displayed in the exhibits.

Purpose/Message: You are welcome, you are home.

An Indigenous installation in the Museum Garden Plaza is intended to pay tribute to Wisconsin’s First Nations, especially those who have called this land home. The installation should convey a sense of welcome to all visitors and connection to this land.


The installation will be outdoors, situated among native plantings, a stormwater bioretention pond and observation deck, outdoor classrooms, and a multi-use plaza. A prominent location within the plaza has been chosen to feature the art installation.

The installation will be near the primary of three entrances, which symbolize the three rivers that converge in Milwaukee to make this a Gathering Place.

Design Intent and Parameters

The committee embraced the concept that the installation will convey the physical representation of traditional Indigenous dwelling with a modern twist. While the installation may not be able to capture all the intentions listed, the committee’s interests are outlined in the list below.

  • It should be an installation that is based on the Great Lakes structure for homes, signifying the past but also communicating that Native people live and thrive here presently.
  • Installation is open to interpretation and can be interpreted as any traditional dwelling of the tribal nations in Wisconsin. Can include:
    • Different designs (e.g. floral design, applique, sky domes, etc.) that are affiliated with specific tribes
    • Flags or emblems of Tribal Nations
    • Different languages
    • Imagery that represents different clans
  • Community use:
    • Integrate spaces that the community can use, for example, sitting on the installation, take a rubbing of a design on the installation
    • Include interactive art/components
    • Include a space for a fireplace that can be used for tribal visits
    • Include space for grass to grow
  • Installation should not be based on people or Native imagery so as not to perpetuate stereotypes.
  • The installation foundation should not exceed a 12-foot diameter and the maximum weight is 7,500 lbs.
  • The total budget is $150,000. The budget includes all expenses associated with the installation, including but not limited to artist fee, materials, transportation, construction, and installation.
Project Timeline

RFP Issued: March 1, 2024
Proposals Due: April 15, 2024
Artist Interviews: Late April, 2024
Artist Selection: May 3, 2024
Committee to Review Design: June 15, 2024 and July 1, 2024
Design Complete: July 12, 2024
Installation: Winter 2026

Proposal Requirements
  • Resume (detailing your work in the arts, education, any awards)
  • Vision Statement: Tell us how you might approach designing the installation. Address the intersection of nature and culture and how this installation can convey a sense of welcome, home, and connection to place. This statement should be no more than two pages (PDF format preferred).
  • Selection of Artist’s visuals (please include 10-15 JPEG format images):
    • The selection committee will be using a computer with a standard business digital projector to project images on a screen

Please submit one (1) electronic version of your resume and vision statement in PDF format and supplementary images via a flash drive or file sharing account such as DropBox. Flash drives can be delivered to Jennifer Zaspel at MPM prior to 4:00 p.m. on the deadline. If you intend to submit via a file sharing account, please confirm access has been granted to prior to the RFP deadline. Late submissions will not be accepted. If you have any questions, please contact James Flores, Tribal Liaison at the Milwaukee Public Museum, at or call 414-278-6933.

All materials must be received by Jennifer Zaspel,, by 5:00 p.m. (CST) on Monday, April 15, 2024.

Selection Criteria

A subcommittee of the Museum’s Native American Advisory Committee will select the successful artist based on the following criteria:

  • Quality and relevance of art portfolio
  • Response to vision statement
  • Knowledge of Indigenous traditions, history, and present culture
  • Status as enrolled member of a Tribal Nation (Indian Arts and Craft Act of 1990)

This RFP is not an offer of purchase; it is a request for information to assist the Museum in making its selection decision. The Museum assumes no financial responsibility for costs incurred in the preparation of your response, including any activities associated with the potential interview process. All materials submitted may be used to select the finalist. The Museum reserves the right to select the provider it determines to be in the best overall interest of the Museum.

Right to Amend

The Museum reserves the right to amend the contents of this RFP. The issuance of a written addendum is the only recognized method where interpretations, clarifications, or additional information can be given that would change the terms and conditions of this RFP. Addenda will be sent to all firms that are submitting a proposal. All addenda so issued will be considered part of the RFP.

Proposal Costs

All costs incurred in responding to this RFP are the proposer's responsibility and in no way creates an agreement or obligation on the Museum's behalf. All proposals shall become the property of the Museum and will not be returned. Proposals may become a public document.