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August 13, 2004
SeattleDr. George MacDonald today announced his retirement as Director of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington.
MacDonald led the development of a four phase plan for the expansion of the Burke to develop its public spaces in progressive stages. "The Burke collections have expanded ten fold since the present facility opened in the mid sixties," Dr. MacDonald commented. "I came here because of the Burke's fine reputation as a center for research on the natural and cultural history of the Northwest. The challenge today is to balance the generation of new knowledge in the museum's various fields of natural and human history with its display program."
Dr. MacDonald is also proud of the progress made under his direction on the Bill Holm Center Endowment which will put the Burke Museum in the forefront of research on Northwest Coast Indian art and culture. He was responsible for attracting major collections of contemporary Northwest Coast art to the museum, including more than four hundred pieces of the Arthur Steinman collection, and the Adelaide de Menil collection of thousands of artistic photographs of totem villages taken by her in the nineteen sixties. "I am confident the Northwest Coast collections will continue to grow as other major collectors seek a permanent home where their collections will be used by students and native artists, as well as the public, for generations to come," he observed.
Before coming to the University of Washington, MacDonald planned and directed the Canadian Museum of Civilization, a million square foot complex in Canada's National Capital area. He opened a similar complex for Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, the largest purpose-built museum in the Southern Hemisphere. The current Burke exhibition, Dinosaurs of Darkness, resulted from his contacts with former colleagues in Melbourne.
Dr. MacDonald will return to his native Canada following presentation of his invited paper at a September symposium to honor the opening of the new National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in Washington D.C. He is a founding member of the board and continues to serve as advisor for the Foundation honoring the Haida artist, Bill Reid, in Vancouver, British Columbia. An active member of the Royal Society of Victoria (Australia) and the Royal Society of Canada, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2001 by the University of Alberta for outstanding contributions to museology.
MacDonald intends to pursue his research and publication on the prehistory and ethno-history of the Northwest Coast Native Peoples. His current publications include Haida Monumental Art, Ninstints: A World Heritage Site on the Queen Charlotte Islands and Haida Art, published by the University of British Columbia Press and the University of Washington Press.
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