March 23, 2016

Burke Museum

Founded in 1885 and declared the Washington State Museum in 1899, the Burke is the oldest museum in Washington. The Museum’s founders began collecting natural and cultural objects as they watched frontier-era Seattle transform before their eyes. For 130 years, the museum built upon this legacy, amassing millions of objects that show us how the Northwest has grown and changed. From its humble beginnings, the Burke has grown into the premier center for learning about the Pacific Northwest.

Executive Director Julie Stein will share stories of the Burke’s impact and reach—locally, regionally, and globally. She’ll also give a sneak preview of the Burke’s plans to completely upend the idea of a traditional museum where collections, researchers and artists are on one side of the wall, and exhibits are on the other.

The Burke is engaged in a multi-year transformation project that will culminate in a new museum facility. Designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, the new, 110,000 sq. ft. building will be 60% larger than the current building. Exhibits and learning areas will be integrated with working spaces throughout the museum, inviting everyone to uncover the depth and breadth of the museum’s collections and experience the thrill of daily discoveries generated at the Burke. State-of-the-art labs will serve more students, researchers, and artists. Larger collections storage spaces and climate control will ensure the Burke can properly care for the objects that make up our shared heritage for generations to come.

The New Burke experience will inspire people to seek, notice, discover, examine, uncover, and value the life before them. The New Burke will be the place we go to learn about our place in the world—and to participate in what our world will become.


Julie K. Stein was appointed Executive Director of The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in 2005. She previously served as the Museum’s Curator of Archaeology.

Stein remains a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. She received her M.A and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. Stein emphasizes coastal adaptations on the Northwest Coast shell middens, and their geoarchaeological considerations. She has excavated archaeological sites on the San Juan Islands since 1983, and continues to give public lectures about their age and meaning.

Discoveries in Geosciences (DIG) Field School

Speaker - Brody Hovatter, Assistant Director

The DIG Field School is a unique, non-profit program from the University of Washington’s Burke Museum, created by UW/Burke paleontologists Dr. Greg Wilson and Dr. Lauren DeBey. The program takes K-12 teachers on field research with UW paleontologists to the Hell Creek badlands of northeastern Montana, an area famous for its dinosaur fossils like Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex.

The mission of the DIG is to connect K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) teachers with scientific research and researchers through ongoing professional development and teaching curricula that extends well beyond the time spent in Montana. Fossils spark student (and teacher!) interest and provide a fun and exciting way to engage with science, including field research methods, critical thinking, and examining evidence. The DIG provides unique hands-on experience and professional training for teachers, who then bring real science into their classrooms. This “real world” professional development is a critical component of increasing teacher effectiveness and student engagement.