Cultural collections at the Burke document human heritage from around the world, including more than 1 million archaeological and ethnological objects and associated archival records. Details about specific collections are listed below, and information about collections-related services, including curation, repatriation and loan and access requests can be found on our Services and Policies page.
Archaeology is the study of human history and our relationship to the environment. The Archaeological Collection contains artifacts, soil samples, animal and plant remains, and their associated field records. Although we have more than 1 million objects from around the world, our primary focus is the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific Rim.
Many of the archaeology artifacts and records are available in the Burke Museum Collections Database. New data is added regularly, including non-diagnostic photos for inventory. In order to protect archaeological sites, no specific locations are available. Locational data is provided at the US county seat or similar non-US regional level.
The Ethnological Collection includes objects dating from the late 1700s to the present, acquired from collectors and Native artists. The Burke Museum's world-renowned ethnological collections number over 50,700 objects and more than 50,000 archival records. The collections’ focus is primarily on cultures of the Pacific Region, including particular strengths in Native American art and artifacts. The collections include the fifth largest ethnological collection of Northwest Coast objects in the U.S., the largest collection of Palauan story boards in the world, one of the top-five Alaskan Arctic collections in the world, and the largest collection of utilitarian Mexican pottery in a public museum outside of Mexico.
Photographs of most ethnological objects and over 5,000 photos from our ethnological archive collections are accessible in the Ethnology Collections Database.