Bringing Natural History into the Modern Age at the Burke Museum

Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture
Burke Heroine

Turning a museum inside out.

The newest evolution of Washington state’s oldest public museum is unlike any other on the planet. While “transparency” has become the order of the day for many institutions, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture turned every facet of its operation inside out, for all to view. Creating “the New Burke” was not only about examining how a museum functioned—it was about reexamining everything the staff, board, and volunteers do, from partnerships, to engaging larger, more diverse communities, to assessing the relevance of the institution’s work and how they pursue it.

Creating a map for a bold future.

During a six-month collaboration, we engaged the full Burke staff, its board of directors, the Burke’s Native American Advisory Board, and the museum’s equity and inclusion committee. Together, we created a strategic plan that worked from the Burke’s many strengths to meet the current moment, and set the stage for ongoing evolution. The strategic plan now has served as an ongoing playbook, continually revisited and recalibrated as the entire Burke team grows into a new home and way of working.

A group of kids and adults look at skeletons at the new Burke Museum
People visit the paleontology room at the New Burke