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March 17, 2014

Burke Museum’s Newest Exhibit Explores its Vast Collections

Imagine That: Surprising Stories and Amazing Objects from the Burke Museum
April 12 – October 26, 2014

Seattle—Over the past 129 years, the Burke Museum has amassed millions of things—more than 15 million of them!

Like most museums, the Burke displays only a tiny portion of its collections in galleries. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, rows and rows of shelves hold an astounding variety of objects related to natural history and human culture—baskets and beetles, hummingbirds and hammerhead sharks, masks and mammoths.

It makes you wonder: Why do museums have all these things? Where did they come from? What are they used for?

Imagine That: Surprising Stories and Amazing Objects from the Burke Museum, reveals the surprising stories, complex questions, and awe-inspiring answers hidden inside objects. See a new side of the Burke, and uncover some of the most fascinating, intriguing, and rare objects in its collection. Join scientists making daily discoveries in the exhibit, and learn how collections show us new things about the world around us every day.

Visitors can see objects from all of the museum’s collections—on display together for the first time. Delve deeper into how objects are cared for so they last for generations. Learn about how researchers from Washington state and around the world have been using Burke collections to answer pressing questions for the past 129 years—and the exciting possibilities collections can unlock in the future. 

Discover how objects have been reinterpreted over time as more information is learned about them. Celebrate how objects remind us of our shared heritage, and are helping rebuild cultural traditions, from traditional foods to boat building.  Or, explore how artists are inspired by collections—from the work of other artists, to the beautiful feathers on a bird wing.

Highlights include:

  • Volcanic ash in a Chianti bottle
  • A 2,000-year-old sandal that’s still in style
  • Fossils that can predict the future
  • Seattle’s first coffee mug

Imagine that!

Image: Courting Sticks (fánáy) from Micronesia, part of the Burke Museum’s Ethnology collection. Young men used these sticks to court young women. Each stick is carved with a unique pattern, making it easy to recognize by touch. If a young man was interested in a girl, he would go to her house at night and poke the stick through the thatch wall to wake her. By feeling the carving, she could tell who it was. If he wasn’t her type, she would just push the stick back out. Photo courtesy of Richard Brown Photography/Burke Museum.

For high resolution images and interviews, contact burkepr@uw.edu.

Support for Imagine That comes from: The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Lucky Seven Foundation, Microsoft, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, Quest for Truth Foundation, ArtsFund, and the U.S. Bancorp Foundation.

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The Burke Museum is located on the University of Washington campus, at the corner of NE 45th St. and 17th Ave. NE. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm on first Thursdays. Admission: $10 general, $8 senior, $7.50 student/ youth. Admission is free to children four and under, Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff. Admission is free to the public on the first Thursday of each month. Prorated parking fees are $15 and partially refundable upon exit if paid in cash. Call 206-543-5590 or visit www.burkemuseum.org. The Burke Museum is an American Alliance of Museums-accredited museum and a Smithsonian Affiliate.

To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at: 206.543.6450 (voice), 206.543.6452 (TTY), 206.685.7264 (fax), or email at dso@u.washington.edu. The University of Washington makes every effort to honor disability accommodation requests. Requests can be responded to most effectively if received as far in advance of the event as possible, preferably at least 10 days.

(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274

Courting Sticks (fánáy) from Micronesia, part of the Burke Museum’s Ethnology collection.
Photo courtesy of Richard Brown Photography/Burke Museum.