Exhibit offers glimpse at Burke’s vast collection

Staff reportMarch 30, 2014 

Over the past 129 years, the Burke Museum has amassed a collection of more than 15 million items.

The confines of the museum, while still large, make it impossible to display each piece.

So, like most museums, behind the scenes the Burke has rows of shelves holding a variety of objects related to natural history and human culture — baskets and beetles, hummingbirds and hammerhead sharks, masks and mammoths.

In a new exhibiting opening April 12, the museum hopes to answer questions such as why do museums have all these things, where did they come from and what are they used for?

“Imagine That: Surprising Stories and Amazing Objects from the Burke Museum” will tell some surprising tales, deal with complex questions and provide some answers hidden inside objects.

Visitors will have the chance to see objects from all of the museum’s collections — on display together for the first time, according to museum officials.

The exhibit will explain how objects are cared for so they last for generations and how researchers from the state and around the world have been using Burke collections in search of answers.

Among the highlights will be volcanic ash found in a Chianti bottle, a 2,000-year-old sandal that’s still in style, fossils that can predict the future and Seattle’s first coffee mug.

The exhibit will run through Oct. 26.

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