2019 Burke Museum Annual Report

Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum
December 20, 2019 | Burke Museum

What an incredible year! We kicked off 2019 at a New Year’s Eve party like no other, celebrating the "old Burke" in style. It was the end of an era, and the beginning of a sprint to the finish on the New Burke. 

Opening the new museum in October was a moment of a lifetime and more than 10 years in the making. Together, we built a new home for the Washington State Museum of Natural History and Culture. For nearly 140 years, the Burke collections have grown—they currently number more than 16 million—and now we have a facility that will protect them for the next century. More importantly, we broke down the barriers between research and collections and the community, so people can learn, be inspired, generate knowledge, feel joy, and heal when they come to the Burke. 

New Burke Museum Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Posted: October 28, 2019

5 Things WE LOVE About the New Burke

a woman holds up two fingers while describing membership to visitors
Photo: Andrew Waits
Photo: Andrew Waits

Being open!

We missed you, and were thrilled to welcome more than 25,000 visitors in our first month. It is so wonderful to see so many old friends and new faces in the Burke.

Plan your visit

visitors look at a mural in the center of the burke
Photo: Andrew Waits
Photo: Andrew Waits


"Synecdoche" by RYAN! Feddersen (Okanogon and Lakes) makes people stop in their tracks to examine all the symbols and watch the colors change with the light. 

Watch a video featuring RYAN! Feddersen

kids run of the stairs of the new burke
Photo: Chris Blakeley
Photo: Chris Blakeley

Excited voices

The sound of kids’ excited voices as they rush up the stairs to start exploring the Burke (and the sound of their parents and teachers reminding them to WALK!). 

Burke Museum Education Programs

a man looks at a t. rex skull
Photo: Timothy Kenney/Burke Museum
Photo: Timothy Kenney/Burke Museum

Visitors' reactions

Visitors’ reactions to all the new objects in the galleries, especially their awe when they find out the T. rex skull isn’t painted or augmented with casts. That’s the REAL DEAL, folks.

Burke Museum discovers a T. rex

a man plants small plants in the new burke landscape

The huckle-babies

The New Burke landscape designed by GGN features more than 70,000 native plants grown by Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center, including evergreen huckleberries started from seed three years ago, and a new Camas meadow planted with the help and blessing of Native food gatherers.

Landscape & Native Plants

5 Things YOU LOVE About the New Burke

a woman talks to visitors with mammal specimens on the table between them
Photo: Andrew Waits
Photo: Andrew Waits

Open labs

“They turned the museum 'inside out' so you can see the curators and [researchers] at work, which was really interesting and engaging. Awesome volunteers who were really knowledgeable—a great experience for all ages!” —Erin G.

Check out our weekend Open Doors

two girls tie ribbons on an interactive exhibit in the new museum
Photo: Andrew Waits
Photo: Andrew Waits

"Reflections" weaving interactive

The “Reflections” weaving interactive reinforces the goal of the Culture is Living gallery: to break down traditional museum authority and bring the expertise and knowledge of communities to the forefront. It’s such a popular activity, we had to buy more ribbons! 

Culture is Living Gallery

off the rez cafe with guests standing in line to order
Photo: Timothy Kenney/Burke Museum
Photo: Timothy Kenney/Burke Museum

Off the Rez Café

Off the Rez Café was recently named one of Seattle Eater’s “Hottest Seattle Restaurants."

"So delicious!! I could eat an endless supply of that fry bread! We got the veggie chili taco, plain fry bread and veggie/quinoa salad...and then we went back and got more fry bread :P” —A. Leader

Read the KUOW story

children and adults play with an interactive hearth in the new museum
Photo: Andrew Waits
Photo: Andrew Waits

"Sharing Hearth"

The “Sharing Hearth” in the Our Material World gallery lets visitors young and old discover traditional Northwest foods, cooking tools and methods.

Our Material World gallery

a small husky sits inside a whale's lower jaw in the mammal collection area
Photo: Timothy Kenney/Burke Museum
Photo: Timothy Kenney/Burke Museum

Hidden Huskies

The “Hidden Husky Hunt” is a fan favorite with kids. Grab a map at the Admission Desk and search for Harry in the labs on your next visit!

Other Youth & Family Programs

Thank you

Thank you to more than 1,000 donors who contributed nearly $40 million to the New Burke, the annual donors who make it possible to operate and grow the museum, our loyal members, and the hundreds of volunteers who helped us move and open the new museum in 2019. We are humbled and grateful for your support.

2019 Annual Report (PDF)