The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture was founded in 1885. It is the oldest public museum in Washington state and was designated the State Museum in 1899. Its administration resides with the University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences. The Burke recognizes that the museum sits on the ancestral land of the Native peoples of Washington state. The Burke holds deep respect for Indigenous knowledge, and is dedicated to collaborating with diverse Native populations, sharing collections and learning together.
The Burke is a research- and collections-based museum that serves many audiences and communities, including Washington state residents, tourists and visitors to Seattle, educators and students, Indigenous and Pacific communities, and researchers, scholars, and enthusiasts. The 16 million objects (and counting!) in the Burke collections are used in many ways, including:
- For education:
More than 35,000 Washington Pre-K–12 students visit the Burke every year, and 70,000 additional students are reached through programs that travel throughout the state.
- For research:
The Burke is an active research museum. The collections are a respected and relied-upon resource for researchers here and around the globe. From lost boat-making techniques to the health of Puget Sound, our latest research newsletter
(PDF) shows just some of the ways researchers use our collections.
As a library of:
- Cultural heritage:
The cultural objects that we care for teach us about the past, but also inspire new works of art from contemporary artists and play an integral part in living culture. By bringing people and objects together, new stories are revealed.
By collecting and preserving specimens, we can learn more about how the natural world has changed and better predict its future. There is much to learn, and these specimens will help answer questions that have yet to be asked.