Last summer, we announced our Building for Culture initiative. This historic $28 million investment in our cultural infrastructure is now in motion all over King County, including, most recently, at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Alaina Fuld, Director of External Affairs at the Burke, recaps a major milestone in the museum’s ambitious plan to build the New Burke:

Elected officials, Burke and University of Washington leaders, and University Temple Children’s School students break ground on the New Burke. Photo: Burke Museum.

Elected officials, Burke and University of Washington leaders, and University Temple Children’s School students break ground on the New Burke. Photo: Burke Museum.

First dates and first dinosaur sightings. A room full of adults clamoring to touch a mammoth tusk. A teenager experiencing a new sense of pride in his culture. “A-ha” moments and deep relationships that span decades.

These were just a few of the stories shared as more than 500 people gathered on Wednesday, May 18, to celebrate breaking ground on the New Burke: a new, flagship facility for the Washington State Museum of Natural History and Culture planned to open in 2019.

The new, 113,000 sq. ft. building located on the University of Washington (UW) Seattle campus will be 60% larger than the current facility. The New Burke will have an innovative “inside-out” design, integrating exhibits and learning areas with visible research labs and collections storage throughout the museum.

“[In the new facility] the Burke will be better able to share the story of the Northwest and our place in the world. It will inspire understanding, wonder and pride in this place we call home,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Architectural rendering showing the paleontology collections space in the New Burke. Illustration: Olson Kundig, Stephanie Bower Architectural Illustration.

Architectural rendering showing the paleontology collections space in the New Burke. Illustration: Olson Kundig, Stephanie Bower Architectural Illustration.

For nearly eight decades, the Burke collections lacked a permanent home, moving between UW buildings. Today, the absence of climate control and backup power in the current facility, erected in 1962, now threaten the long-term viability of our state’s natural and cultural heritage collections—a total of more than 16 million objects.

In the New Burke, climate control and backup power will protect the collections for decades to come. State-of-the-art labs will serve more students, researchers and artists. More education space will allow the Burke to potentially double the number of Pre-K–12 students served each year.

Students from the University Temple Children’s School—located across the street from the site of the New Burke—joined project donors and officials for the ceremonial groundbreaking. The group used shovels, pick axes and other field tools used by Burke archaeologists and paleontologists for the “dig.”

[youtube width=”610″ height=”493″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE01_bZJtog[/youtube]

The groundbreaking was the culmination of a year filled with exciting steps toward the New Burke: completing design of the new building; receiving funding from the State of Washington, King County and the City of Seattle; success in private fundraising; and receiving approval from the UW Board of Regents to break ground.

To-date, $67 million of the total $99 million project budget has been raised. The museum will request $24.2 million from the State of Washington in 2017, and continue to raise private funds.

Consultation with diverse community groups about the exhibits and education programs being developed for the New Burke will also be a major focus for the coming years.

“The Burke Museum has been exploring our shared heritage and natural history for 135 years,” said Constantine. “This new building will help continue that tradition for a new, and very different, century.”

View more photos from the New Burke Groundbreaking Ceremony. Learn more about the New Burke: newburke.org.