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November 20, 2012

Rethink plastics at new Burke Museum exhibit

Plastics Unwrapped
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
December 20, 2012 – May 27, 2013

Seattle – Can you imagine a time when there were no waterproof raincoats? No plastic buckets? Humans existed without plastics for centuries. Now, we rely on them to meet our basic needs. Plastics help keep us safe and healthy. They make our daily lives convenient in so many ways, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a world without them.

Only 50 years ago, we hardly used plastics. How did they go from being rare to being everywhere? Plastics Unwrapped, a new exhibit from the Burke Museum, explores how material culture was changed—rapidly and perhaps permanently—by plastics. Learn what life was like before plastics, how they are made, why they’re so convenient and beneficial to use, and what happens after we throw them away.

The exhibit explores how plastics have changed the world, through topics ranging from life before plastics to the effects of plastic on our health and the environment. See pre-plastic objects from the Burke Museum’s collection, understand what the recycling numbers mean on plastic items, and learn about promising breakthroughs in science that are changing the role of plastic in our lives.

Plastics were marketed as the “material of the future.” Now, that prediction has come true. They will stay in landfills and oceans for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In order to counter the impact of plastic waste, we need to rethink our relationship with plastics. Discover how, at Plastics Unwrapped.

Plastics Unwrapped Programs and Events

The Burke Museum will host a variety of programs and hands-on activities in the exhibit’s “Plastics Studio Lab,” an interactive space with plastic activities such as art projects and experiments.

The museum is also partnering with the Seattle Theatre Group on February 5, 2013 to present an evening of “Short Takes on Plastics.” Ten experts from UW and beyond will have six minutes and 20 slides to discuss a range of topics, covering the benefits and unwanted side effects of plastics on our health, cultures, and environments across the globe.

Evening plastic programs include a collaboration with the UW Program on the Environment to present a seminar series, running weekly from April thru May. Plastics Unwrapped: the Good, the Ugly, and the Debate will offer an opportunity to further explore exhibit topics and related social, economic, and environmental impacts of the use and fate of plastics. 

Plastics Unwrapped is organized by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture with support from: The Boeing Company, University of Washington, Cedar Grove, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences, Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Society of Plastics Engineers, Horizons Foundation, and Waste Management. Media Sponsor: KUOW.

High resolution images available, contact burkepr@uw.edu

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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 Association of Museums accredited museum.

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