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Discover the life before you at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

Discover The Life Before You

Learn more about the Burke's transformation project, which will culminate in a campaign for a new museum facility. The "New Burke" will be a flagship natural history museum that inspires wonder and pride about the Northwest and our place in the world. Find out more at lifebeforeyou.org.



Updated May 2010

The Burke Museum creates a better understanding of the world and our place in it. The museum is responsible for Washington State collections of natural and cultural heritage and sharing the knowledge that makes them meaningful. The Burke welcomes a broad and diverse audience and provides a community gathering place that nurtures life-long learning and encourages respect, responsibility and reflection.



The Burke Museum inspires people to value their connection with all life—and act accordingly.



Integrity Being open and truthful; adhering to the highest ethical and professional standards
Respect Respecting each other and the objects and ideas with which we work; welcoming diverse communities and divergent points of view
Excellence Pursuing excellence in each of our endeavors; acting as leaders in our respective fields
Stewardship Protecting the collections and information we hold for future generations; conducting business in a sustainable way
Curiosity Encouraging curiosity in ourselves and our visitors; posing questions and seeking answers about the world and our place in it
Relevance Exploring critical issues involving nature, cultures, and their interconnections; being a valued resource for the communities we serve
Burke Museum's Director, Dr. Julie Stein
Burke Museum's Director, Dr. Julie Stein

Members of the Young Naturalists Society
The Young Naturalists Society Founders, April 30, 1882. UW Special Collections, Negative #UW21691, Accession #70-068.


The Burke Museum celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2010! View a slide show and read more about our history.

Members of the Young Naturalists Society founded the museum upon their own initiative and erected a museum building on the university campus to house their growing collection of natural history artifacts.

In 1899, the state legislature designated the museum as the Washington State Museum. In the following 100+ years, the museum continued to grow and flourish in collections and research, garnering worldwide recognition as a museum of natural history and culture.

The Burke acquired its current name and building in 1962, through a bequest from the Caroline McGilvra Burke estate in honor of her husband, Judge Thomas Burke.


Caroline McGilvra Burke
Caroline McGilvra Burke, philanthropist and collector of Native American materials.
Thomas Burke
Jurist and forward-looking pioneer Thomas Burke, in whose memory the museum was renamed.

Annual Report


Past annual reports: