Editor's Expeditions - Burke Museum

  • Written by Kristen Hamilton

On a recent rainy day, my husband Bob and I were out exploring when we happened upon the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus.  It took a bit to find an open parking spot that didn’t require a school permit, but we figured that gave us an opportunity to check out part of the campus as well.  Eventually, we found a spot in a pay lot and after a short walk we entered the museum.

We started with the “Testing, Testing 1-2-3: Work in Progress” exhibit which features the behind-the-scenes work of getting ready for the New Burke Museum.  As it was explained to us, this how the new museum will look and feel.

Burke Museum Photo by Richard Brown PhotographyPhoto by Richard Brown PhotographyThe new museum is being touted as the flagship museum of natural history and culture for Washington state.  Construction is underway and is scheduled to open in 2019.

Essentially, the space is very interactive, and you feel as though you are practically working with the scientists and curators. 

For example, you can peer through the glass watching a paleontologist working on a massive skull of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  In another room nearby, you can watch as a group of researchers painstakingly clean the huge spine of a Thescelosaur that was discovered in Montana.

On the day we visited,  a workshop was in progress with the participants trying their hand at decorative woodcarvings. Overall the space had at least five rooms with different behind the scenes museum activities going on.

We next ventured through the museum with multiple educational and very interesting exhibits. 

“Life and Times of Washington State” is a hands-on adventure that begins 545 million years ago and leads you through the evolution of Washington’s geology, biology and archaeology. Starting when an ancient sea covered most of Washington.  You’ll see giant skeletons of dinosaurs, including
Stegosaurus,  Elasmo-saurus and a 140-million-year-old Allosaurus. 

Life Times Exhibit2 Photo by Andrew WaitsPhoto by Andrew Waits“Pacific Voices” is   an   exhibit  that included  working   with  representatives of 17 ethnic communities and tribes that considered the question: How do we pass our culture along from one generation to the next? Their answers fall into three categories: language and stories, teachers and elders, and ceremonies, with each community choosing one or more examples to share.  The artifacts in this exhibit are really beautiful.

In the “Treasures of the Burke” exhibit, there are more than 100 objects from glittering gems to colorful birds and more.

An last but not least, you can discover Washington’s first dinosaur fossil. It is a partial left femur bone of a Theropod dinosaur that was collected along the shores of Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.

So on that next rainy day when you are looking for something to do, go visit the Burke Museum at the UW campus.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised as we were!

Burke Museum
Admission $10
Open Daily
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. PLUS the first Thursday of the month is FREE!

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