UW Today

April 6, 2011

UW blog profile: ‘Burke Blog a lively look inside natural history museum

Members of the UW community are increasingly expressing themselves in blogs about their interests or professional matters. UW Today occasionally features brief profiles of these blogs and their authors.

Here we visit the Burke Blog, a light-hearted blog written by staff and students that draws attention to exhibits and programs at the UWs Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Julia Swan, Burke PR coordinator, who has been writing the blog for the past three years, answers our questions. (You can subscribe to the blog by email or by RSS, by the way.)

Q: How long have you been writing this blog, and how did it get its start?

The Burke Blog was started in 2006 by a former Burke staff member with the goal of sharing the museums behind-the-scenes stories with the public. At that point, the Burke was one of a few museums to adopt a blog and weve been able to keep it going since then.

However, in the last year I noticed the blog starting to feel a little stale and our readership starting to plateau. So at the start of 2011, we gave the Burke Blog a complete makeover, changing everything from the design of the blog site to the type of content posted to the number of contributors writing for the blog. I think the Burke now has a much better blog that offers interesting, readable, and amusing posts about the daily life of UWs own natural history museum.

Q: Who is your intended audience?

The UW community, Burke members and supporters, and anyone with an interest in the natural sciences, Pacific Northwest cultures, and/or museums.

Theres one woman who was a blog reader and had emailed us with comments about the blog before and now shes a student in the UWs museum studies certificate program and is going to start writing for the Burke Blog next quarter as a practicum project.

Q: What are your best — or worst — experiences in having a blog?

Best: Its a great outlet for sharing a more personable, lively side to the museum; for example, many visitors to the museum will comment about the size of our enormous freight elevator and ask questions about what kinds of objects or specimens ride in that elevator, so one of our bloggers wrote a mock interview with the elevator — it was clever and fun, but it still provided a level of insight about the museums mission and the services we provide to the community that is important to us to communicate.

Worst: Its a challenge to regularly produce high-quality content that is relevant and intriguing, but it has helped tremendously to recruit more writers and allow for a more light-hearted, humorous tone.

Q: Do you have any plans for where you’ll take the blog in the future?

I would love to see more people contribute content to the Burke blog, whether its Burke staff or volunteers, UW students, or community members with an interest in the natural sciences.

Do you know of a blog written by a member of the UW community that would be of interest to faculty and staff readers? Drop us a line at uwtoday@u.washington.edu.

Here are links to some other recent blog profiles: