Museology Master of Arts Program

November 13, 2019

Burke at Work: Illuminating Use and Value of Natural History Collections

Project by Sarah Winkowski (2019)

The heart of many museums is their collections. These repositories are the basis for education, exhibits, outreach, and research. However, the extent and breadth of the work done with these collections may not be fully understood by museum audiences. Public understanding of the value of collections and the extent of their use seems especially disconnected in natural history museums. Here, collections serve as reference libraries of biodiversity and are actively used in scientific research. Natural history collections are an interconnected network, with online specimen databases allowing for anyone to view collection data, and loans of specimens made around the world. These uses are increasingly important as we gain a greater understanding of the ongoing human-generated global biodiversity crises. There is a need to find new and effective ways of communicating to museums’ communities how these collections are being used and what their value is to the institution, to the community, and to society at large. This project seeks to do just that, by using departmental data from the Burke to create interactive maps showing where specimens are loaned to and how collections are built and used.

Keywords: Class of 2019, museum, museum studies, museology, project, collections, community


Winkowski, S. (2019). Burke at Work: Illuminating Use and Value of Natural History Collections. Unpublished master’s project, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.