Founded in 1885, the Burke Museum is Washington State's oldest museum and the Pacific Northwest's focal point of natural history and cultural heritage.
Founded by members of the Young Naturalists Society, the museum houses a growing collection of natural history finds. They erected a museum building on the University of Washington campus.
By an act of the state of Washington legislature in 1899, the institution became the Washington State Museum. Throughout its long and rich history, the museum's collections and research have continued to blossom, earning global acknowledgment as a museum of natural history and culture.
The museum derives its current name and building in honor of Judge Thomas Burke in 1962, through a bequest from the Caroline McGilvra Burke estate.
The University of Washington Museology Program, established in 1972, offers a master of arts degree in museum studies. The program educates students in the broad interdisciplinary knowledge and skills necessary to pursue professional careers in museum work. Students entering the program primarily focus on specializations in curation, collection management, and training in museums of anthropology, art, history, and natural history. Depending on student background, other areas of concentration are possible, including exhibition and museum administration.
As one of the first university graduate programs to require internship training, the Museology Program continues to require practical experience as an essential training element, in addition to practicums carried out in such campus facilities as the Burke Museum itself, Henry Art Gallery, Herbarium, Arboretum, and university libraries. Internships place students in regional and national museums, galleries, and cultural centers.