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The Burke Museum is celebrating 125 years!

August 02, 2010

In 1885, a group of young teenagers from families of Seattle's early white settlers found that they loved natural history and formed an organization which they called the Young Naturalists Society. Eventually, the group of young men coordinated their energies and built the first Washington State museum building on the newly-formed university campus to house their growing collection of natural history artifacts. A museum was born!

In 1899, the state legislature designated the museum as the "Washington State Museum." In the following 100+ years, the museum has continued to grow and flourish in collections and research, strengthening its ties and connections to the University of Washington with various science divisions, including Anthropology, Biology, and Earth and Space Sciences.

Through the years, the museum collections were moved around campus to various locations. Finally, in 1962, the Burke acquired its current name and building, through a bequest from the Caroline McGilvra Burke estate in honor of her husband, Judge Thomas Burke. Judge Burke was an avid collector of Native American objects and supporter of ethnic communities regionally.

The museum has actively pursued its role as the Washington State Museum over the years, particularly in the education of K-12 school children around the Puget Sound region and Washington State, exhibiting and touring collections, and pursuing original research as a partner with the University of Washington.

Today, the Burke continues its legacy of collecting, researching, educating, and exhibiting, garnering worldwide recognition as a museum of natural history and culture, with over 12.5 million objects in the collections.

As 2010 comes to a close, the Burke Museum looks forward to another 125 years on the University of Washington campus!