New museums, state offices create opportunity to reimagine Downtown | Local

The strategic plan also envisions redeveloping the current GEF 2 and GEF 3 buildings to create space for the departments of Administration, Natural Resources, Public Instruction and Health Services, Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and perhaps others on a site called Block 107 bounded by East Main, South Webster, South Butler and King streets.


The GEF 1 building would be demolished to make way for the new museum building.

“We’re thrilled to be able to invest and build a beautiful Historical Society Museum on one of the most visible locations in Downtown Madison,” DOA Secretary Joel Brennan said. “Wisconsin Veterans Museum would benefit greatly from a significantly larger footprint for their new facility. The proposed museum site at Block 108 would include more than three times the exhibit space and a total square footage of more than 47,000 square feet.”

The relocation of the museums also creates redevelopment or reuse possibilities for two prime properties at the top of State Street.

The strategic plan, which anticipates more employees working from home and decreasing the state’s real estate portfolio, could also mean the eventual sale of the State Office Building, an 11-story, Art Deco structure next to Monona Terrace with commanding views of Lake Monona that now houses the Department of Health Services.

State office building

The Art Deco State Office Building at 1 W. Wilson St., which now houses the departments of Administration and Health Services, could eventually be sold if the state adopts a plan that would relocate employees to new facilities.

The state is also pondering relocating employees and the future of the 10-story Department of Administration Building at 101 E. Wilson St., set between the historic Madison Club, 5 E. Wilson St., and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board building, 121 E. Wilson St. SWIB has already announced it is moving from its two-story office building for larger, new facilities at the massive Madison Yards redevelopment on the city’s West Side. 

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