UW News

June 7, 2022

Burke Museum receives national award

UW News

museum gallery

The Burke Museum, which reopened in 2019 bringing visitors in closer connection with its exhibits, is one of six institutions to win the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.University of Washington


The Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle today announced it is one of six recipients of the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. The award is given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Burke Museum is the only institution in Washington to be selected.

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners represent institutions that provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service. Through their community outreach, these institutions bring about change that touches the lives of individuals and helps communities thrive.

“At a moment when the purpose and guiding values of museums are being widely reconsidered, the Burke Museum is honored to be recognized for its commitment to serving our communities,” said Gabriela Chavarria, executive director of the Burke Museum. “We see this commitment come to life in the new building, which is designed to bring visitors into close, meaningful engagement with the Burke’s research and collections.”

The museum’s commitment to community is also reflected in every aspect of the work, said Julie Stein, the Burke Museum’s emeritus executive director.

“We value and prioritize consulting and co-creating beyond the museum so we can better reflect the diverse histories, perspectives, traditions and contributions of our region,” Stein said.

The Burke Museum was founded in 1885 by the Young Naturalists, a group of teenagers inspired by seeing Seattle transform before their eyes. For 130 years, the Museum has built upon this legacy, collecting objects that help people understand how the Northwest has grown and changed.

Today, the Burke Museum is governed by the University of Washington Board of Regents and administered by the College of Arts & Sciences. With a collection featuring over 18 million pieces, the Burke opened its new home in 2019, a stunning 113,000-square foot building that brings visitors and researchers together through an innovative “inside-out” design where visitors can see — and feel — a world alive.

The award will be presented at a ceremony in July in Washington, DC.