A fitting first object: Madrone tree specimen moves into the New Burke

April 17, 2018
Burke Museum
Julie Stein (left), Richard Olmstead (middle) and David Giblin hold the madrone specimen—the first object to be moved into the New Burke.

Julie Stein (left), Richard Olmstead (middle) and David Giblin hold the madrone specimen—the first object to be moved into the New Burke.

Photo: Burke Museum

A specimen from a tree that once stood on the site of the new Burke Museum is the first object to be moved into the new building.

On Tuesday, April 10, 2018, herbarium curator Richard Olmstead, collections manager David Giblin, and executive director Julie Stein brought the herbarium specimen collected from the large madrone (Arbutus Menziesii) into the New Burke—signifying the beginning of the move.

The madrone specimen that is the first object in the New Burke.

The madrone specimen that is the first object in the New Burke.

Photo: Burke Museum

This particular specimen was collected by Julie in June 2016, prior to the start of construction, during an informal gathering of Burke staff to honor the madrone tree and make it a permanent part of the Burke herbarium collection.

Julie Stein collects a madrone specimen to add to the Burke collection in June 2016.

Julie Stein collects a madrone specimen to add to the Burke collection in June 2016.

Photo: Burke Museum

A Burke staff member touches the large madrone tree.

A Burke staff member touches the large madrone tree.

Photo: Burke Museum

At the time of its collection, Herbarium collections manager David Giblin shared a few words about the significance of madrones (also called Madrona trees) and the important role they have in Northwest ecosystems and cultures. He then put the specimens into a press to dry and noted the time and place that they were collected. 

Once dry, the specimens were mounted onto a herbarium sheet, scanned and added to the online collections database before being housed in the collection.

David Giblin places the madrone specimen samples in newspaper to press them for drying.

David Giblin places the madrone specimen samples in newspaper to press them for drying.

Photo: Burke Museum

David Giblin notes the date, location, and GPS coordinates of the collected madrone specimen.

David Giblin notes the date, location, and GPS coordinates of the collected madrone specimen.

Photo: Burke Museum

While construction required the removal of some trees, three trees will be planted to replace every two removed and the Burke and the University of Washington are reusing the wood from felled trees in the New Burke building and other projects across campus. 

Wood from the madrone tree covers the walls of the east entrance to the New Burke, surrounding visitors as they embark on their museum experience.

Julie Stein and David Giblin admire the madrone wood adorning the walls of the east entrance to the New Burke.

Julie Stein and David Giblin admire the madrone wood adorning the walls of the east entrance to the New Burke.

Photo: Burke Museum

Madrone wood covers the walls of the east entrance to the New Burke.

Madrone wood covers the walls of the east entrance to the New Burke.

Photo: Burke Museum

In addition to the entrance paneling, wood from the madrone will also become a one-of-a-kind bench for visitors to sit at the feet of the mastodon in the new lower lobby.

A rendering of the New Burke lower lobby.

A rendering of the New Burke lower lobby.

Image: Evidence Design

Soon new Douglas fir and madrone trees will dot the area around the building, surrounded by drought-tolerant plants like salal and evergreen huckleberry. The final phase of landscaping, including the new parking lot and meadow featuring native camas lilies and prairie grasses, will be completed in advance of the New Burke opening in fall 2019.

Burke Museum herbarium curator Richard Olmstead holds the madrone specimen in the entrance to the New Burke.

Burke Museum herbarium curator Richard Olmstead holds the madrone specimen in the entrance to the New Burke.

Photo: Burke Museum

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Visit the New Burke Project page for answers to common questions about the project. The Burke Museum is open during construction of the New Burke! Plan your visit today. 

Read more New Burke updates.

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