Burke Museum Home

Focus on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

We invite you to explore the natural history and cultures of the Arctic. The content featured on this page is selected for you by Burke Museum staff


What's this all about?
The Burke developed this webpage to help people learn more about the Arctic Refuge, its cultural and natural history, and the politics of one of the most controversial landscapes on the planet.

In 2005, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was the subject of two exciting programs at the Burke Museum. The first was an exhibit of 49 photographs by Subhankar Banerjee. For two years beginning in March 2001, Banerjee traveled some 4,000 miles on foot, raft, kayak, snowmobile, and bush planes, visually recording this extraordinary area. His photographs have helped reveal the beauty and diversity of the Refuge to thousands of people.

The Burke also partnered with the University of Washington’s Program on the Environment, which put together an intensive class focused on the natural and cultural history and politics of the Refuge. In addition to reading about the Refuge and listening to experts, the twelve students in the class traveled to Alaska and spent eight days rafting across the coastal plain, the area proposed to be opened for drilling. The students also talked with geologists, activists, ecologists, writers, and politicians in Alaska and then traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators and to share their experiences.

Featured content


Arctic Artifacts
View amazing objects from the Burke's Arctic collection: masks, dolls, model kayaks, ivory animal carvings, mukluks, and more.

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Arctic photography exhibit
Extraordinary images of Arctic landscapes, wildlife, and people—by photographer Subhankar Banerjee.


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My Arctic Sketchbook
Charming vignettes from UW student Corrina Chase's journal of her visit to Refuge. (PDF)


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Alaska Arctic Burke Box
Bring a museum collection into your classroom—rent a study kit! Hands-on learning at its best.


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Kid Activities
Fun for kids: Make an Arctic mask; make your own caribou antlers; make snow goggles. (PDF)


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Lesson Plans
Hey, teachers! Curriculum and lesson plans for grades 7–10, about the land, wildlife, and people of the Alaskan Arctic.


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Want to Learn More
Best web links and books about the Arctic and the issues, as recommended by Seattle librarians.