Categories
GeekWire

Museum readies new home for age-old treasures

Burke Museum
The New Burke Museum is at the corner of Northeast 43rd Street and 15th Avenue Northeast, on the western edge of the University of Washington’s main campus in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

After a three-year, $99 million construction effort, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is putting the finishing touches on a new home that shows off old favorites and a brand-new centerpiece for the ages: a 66 million-year-old T. rex skull that museum volunteers discovered in Montana in 2015.

“That skull is completely prepared and mounted — and the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” the museum’s executive director, Julie Stein, told GeekWire.

But that’s not all: There’ll be other treasures on display, both scary and soulful.

The skeletons of a mastodon and a beaked whale, plus a gleaming glass monument done up in Coast Salish style, will greet visitors when they enter through the lower-level lobby.

Museumgoers will be able to nosh on frybread tacos at the Off the Rez Cafe. They can feast their eyes on totem poles and other artifacts from Northwest tribes. And they’ll have the chance to reacquaint themselves with their favorite items from the old Burke Museum building, which has now been replaced by a parking lot.

Stein, whose new office isn’t far from the T. rex, doesn’t miss the old place at all.

“The old building was very difficult to live in. It was the lack of air conditioning and the lack of humidity control. The facility was falling apart. The restrooms were inadequate,” she recalled.

“Inviting the public into a place that was shabby was disheartening,” she said.

In contrast, Stein is excited about the opening of the New Burke, which was built right next to the old museum site, on the western edge of the University of Washington’s campus.

“I just can’t wait for the visitors to come,” Stein said.

Get the full story and photos on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Space fans set to celebrate Apollo 11 anniversary

Apollo exhibit
Lisa Young, conservator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, adjusts the gloves that Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon, on display as part of the “Destination Moon” exhibit at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. Aldrin’s helmet and visor can be seen on display, and in the famous moon picture seen in the background at left. (Museum of Flight Photo)

The countdown is on for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and that means the appointment books for space luminaries and their fans are filling up like the propellant tanks on a Saturn V rocket.

Seattle’s Museum of Flight is one of the epicenters for the festivities, thanks to its status as the next stopover for the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling “Destination Moon” exhibit. Due to a remodeling project at the National Air and Space Museum, some of the choicest Apollo artifacts are going on the road. The Museum of Flight will be hosting the exhibit starting next month and running all the way through the July 20 anniversary into the Labor Day weekend.

Just this week, curators worked in a sealed-off section of the museum to get the helmet and the gloves worn by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin ready for the exhibit. A magnifying glass was positioned near the cuff of a glove to give museumgoers a close look at the checklist of tasks Aldrin was given for his moonwalk. The checklist reminded him about an important chore: taking a picture of a bootprint.

“Destination Moon” officially opens on April 13, but VIPs will get sneak peeks starting a couple of weeks before that date. There’s a luncheon for museum members on March 30, featuring talks by Apollo flight directors Glynn Lunney, Gerry Griffin and Milt Windler. A members-only preview of the exhibit is planned for April 6.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Crowdsourcing saves digital artifacts in Brazil

Funerary mask
A funerary mask from ancient Egypt is among the artifacts from the now-destroyed Museu documented in digital 3-D models. (UFRJ National Museum via Sketchfab)

One of the greatest tragedies in the museum world transpired over the weekend when fire broke out at Brazil’s Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro, touching off a mad scramble to save physical and virtual treasures.

Many of the 200-year-old natural history museum’s 20 million artifacts have been destroyed, including irreplaceable fossils and specimens. One heartbreaking videosweeps around a ruined gallery where only a monumental meteorite survived unscathed.

Museum workers managed to save some artifacts from the blaze, and other items survived because they were on loan to institutions elsewhere. But for many of the pieces, the only hope is to build a digital archive containing videos and photos of the museum’s collection.

Get the full story on GeekWire.