Seek

The Life Before You
There is no substitute for real

When we examine the parts, we get new perspective on the whole. There is nothing like holding a dinosaur bone, or the smell of cedar baskets...getting close enough to see a story written in cracks and weaves.

A Homecoming for Sooke:

Even the tiniest bones from a whale provide important insights.

Read the Story
Orca whale
Orcinus orca
Pacific oakfern
Gymnocarpium disjunctum

Notice

The Life Before You
What is hiding right before our eyes?

The tiniest clues, like the weave of a basket or the pattern of a lizard's skin enable us to unravel the larger story of how we got here and where we're headed.

Cloudy with a chance of horned lizards:

What Mexican reptiles may teach us about human evolution.

Read the Story
Ocellated lizard
Lacerta ocellata
Skokomish basket
Burke Cat. No. 1-507

Discover

The Life Before You
What happened before we were here?

Objects are the keys that unlock the story of life on earth. Every discovery sheds new light on the past, and helps us better predict the future.

Drawing Conclusions: One Geologist's Glimpse into Ancient Marine Life:

Reconstructing some of the oldest fossils on earth.

Read the Story
American mastodon
Mammut americanum
Tropical foraminifera
Sorites, Baculogypsina

Examine

The Life Before You
Every object has a story to tell

The Burke brings together people, objects, and the stories that make them meaningful. Every new examination, every fresh perspective, redefines history as we know it.

Isaac Goes Down Under:

Isaac began his life in Botswana, but he's about to make his final journey from Seattle to his new home in Australia.

Read the Story
Dermestid beetle
Dermestes maculatus
Leopard
Panthera pardus

Uncover

The Life Before You
Look beneath the surface

For all those who would dig deeper: our collection is your collection. It is our shared heritage—not just a reminder of the past, but a resource for the future.

Rediscovering Ancient Basketry at the Biderbost Site:

Why an unlikely and muddy dig environment does a remarkable job of preserving delicate artifacts.

Read the Story
Basketry jar
Burke Cat. No. 2-1583
Pacific Salmon
Oncorhynchus sp.

Value

The Life Before You
15 million objects (and counting!)

When we add an object to our collection, we promise to take care of it forever. But what is the value of 65,000 birds, or 7,500 baskets? We save the past because we never know what questions will be asked in the future.

Encoded in the Weave:

What ancient baskets can teach us about sustainable harvesting.

Read the Story
Raven
Corvus corax
Tlingit Rattle-Top Basket
Burke Cat. No. 1-11458