Skip to Content
photo of Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Seattle, Washington

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Seattle, Washington

  • Design Principal

    Tom Kundig

  • Principal

    Stephen Yamada-Heidner

The Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture is the oldest public museum in Washington State with a collection of over 16 million artifacts and specimens, ranging from totem poles and gemstones to dinosaur fossils. Because the Burke’s collection is so wide-ranging and continues to grow – it is a collecting museum – the new building needed to serve as a coherent, effective container that would allow for flexibility over time. The building’s rational scheme holds the complexity of the Burke’s activities and collections, both now and into the future.

Another key design goal for the building was to create maximum transparency, making every part of the Burke exposed and part of the visitor experience. The design breaks down traditional museum barriers between public and “back-of-house” spaces, integrating collections and research labs with traditional galleries. Dual entrances help link the museum to its context, connecting to both the University of Washington campus and the surrounding community. A 24-foot-by-20-foot pivoting window wall continues the emphasis on transparency to literally open the Burke to the nature of a new outdoor courtyard. At its core, the mission of the Burke is to help everyone – curators, visitors, educators and students – make a connection with our natural world in all its complexities. The project is targeting LEED® Gold certification.

We wanted to create a simple, beautiful, rational and flexible building that will serve the Burke for hundreds of years. It is an inviting place not only for the public, but also for the scientists, researchers and curators of today and tomorrow. Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA

Team

Publications

2019

“Look Ahead: The hottest Seattle events for October 2019.” The Seattle Times, 27 Sep. 2019. Web.

Borchert, Gavin. “17 Best Things to Do in Seattle in October 2019.” Seattle Magazine, 28 Sep. 2019. Web.

Clemans, Gayle. “9 Seattle-area art experiences you won’t want to miss this fall.” The Seattle Times, 17 Sep. 2019. Web.

Clemans, Gayle. “9 Seattle-area art experiences you won’t want to miss this fall.” The Seattle Times, 22 Sep. 2019, E3. Print.

Clemans, Gayle. “Look Ahead: The hottest Seattle events for October.” The Seattle Times, 27 Sep. 2019, D10-D13. Print.

Elliott, Gwendolyn. “Close Encounters.” Seattle Magazine, September 2019, 112-113. Print.

Elliott, Gwendolyn. “Seattle Fall Arts Preview: Inside the New Burke Museum.” Seattle Magazine, 5 Sep. 2019. Web.

Gallaher, Rachel. “Breaking Barriers.” Gray Magazine, October/November 2019, 86-91. Print.

Kiley, Brendan. “How not to run anyone over with a dinosaur: The Burke Museum moves into its new digs.” The Seattle Times, 14 Feb. 2019. Web.

Kiley, Brendan. “How to move a museum.” The Seattle Times, 17 Feb. 2019, E1, E6. Print.

“New Burke Museum opens Oct. 12.” Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 26 Jul. 2019, 1, 10. Print.

Pailthorp, Bellamy. “New Burke turns old museum ‘inside-out’ to make collections and staff more accessible.” KNKX-FM Online, 18 Sep. 2019. Web.

Phung, Timothy. “All the Burke needs is ‘U.'” The Daily of the University of Washington, 28 May 2019. Web.

Sudermann, Hannelore. “Unwrapped.” University of Washington Magazine, Fall 2019, 36-43. Print.

Sudermann, Hannelore. “The Burke, unwrapped.” University of Washington Magazine, September 2019. Web.

1996

Enlow, Clair. “Burke Museum Chooses Team.” Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, July 1996. Print.