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The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is pleased to introduce a new traveling exhibit, The Big One, Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, available for booking from March 2002—March 2004. This compact, flexible exhibit is designed to appeal to a wide variety of audiences and present information every Northwester should know— why we have earthquakes, the hazards they present, and what we can do to prepare. Components include a freestanding panel display, hands-on models, study kits for schools, take-away brochures on safety topics, and computer resources. There is also the opportunity to host a visiting scientist in your community in conjunction with the exhibition.

Developed in collaboration with leading scientists from the University of Washington and a wide range of public partners, including the National Science Foundation, The Big One: Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest presents up-to-date science in everyday language and provides unique opportunities to reach out to schools and organizations in your community. These are some of the questions the Burke’s traveling exhibit, The Big One: Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, will address:

Why are earthquakes inevitable?

A brief introduction to plate tectonics, including the inner structure of the earth, the convection currents that keep plates in motion, and why earthquakes occur at plate boundaries.

What’s happening Here?

The distinctive geology of the Pacific Northwest and the three types of earthquakes produced here (where and when they have taken place historically, how they are caused, and what kinds of damage they create).

How do we know all this?

Explanations of how seismographs are used to record, measure, and interpret the energy released.

A great detective story

A recap of the fascinating research that proved that major earthquakes do occur here in the Pacific Northwest (inlcudes evidence of a devastating earthquake and tsunami along the Washington coast 300 years ago and confirmation of this event through historical records in Japan.

Researching the risk

Examples of current research efforts and what they are revealing about our past earthquake history and current risks (includes investigations underway around Puget Sound, the Pacific Coast, and Eastern Washington).

What are the dangers? How can we prepare?

Introduces hazards— from ground failure to tsunamis— and explains why one earthquake causes different effects in different areas. Presents basic safety steps to take now and when an earthquake strikes.

Traveling Exhibit components

Panel Display

  • Versatile free-standing system with 12 lightweight, 3’ by 4’ panels, hung in stacked pairs.
  • Pole and panel units can be arranged in a number of different configurations.

Hands-on Displays

Three pedestals, approximately 2’ by 3’ square and 30" high, each topped by a hands-on model (models may alternately be displayed on a table).

Traveling Study kits

Two kits containing books, videos, lesson plans, specimens and supplies for classroom use.

Other Materials and supplies

  • Free take-away brochures for visitors on basic earthquake/tsunami safety issues
  • Press kit with sample press releases, teacher mailings, etc.
  • Assembly and repacking instructions
  • Evaluation forms and additional information from the Burke
  • Computer CD containing historic photos and additional scientific informaiton

Fees and requirements

  • The rental fee is $250 per 4-week booking period, plus one-way shipping.
  • All components and insurance are included in the fee
  • The exhibit requires 3-4 people to unpack and assemble
  • Security is low


The exhibit is currently available for bookings of 4 weeks or more in Dec. 2002, and from May to Dec. 2003.


To book the exhibit or receive more information, please contact Ruth Pelz, Project Coordinator, at 206-616-1550 or email

Press Contact:

Natasha Dworkin
Public Relations Manager
Phone: 206-543-9762
Fax: 206-616-1274

Planning your Visit
Locations and Dates
Visiting Scientist Tour

Sponsors and Collaborators


© 2002 Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3010
Phone: 206-543-5590