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Kid-Friendly Burke Museum Offers Free Admission

On the last days in its current building, the Burke offers free entry to all

Nancy Chaney

Published on: December 21, 2018

Dino dress-up at the Burke Museum free final week
Dino dress-up fun at the Burke Museum. Image courtesy of the Burke Museum

Superbly timed for families with kids on winter break, Seattle's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture opens its doors to all, free of charge, for the final days in its current building. Museum admission is free to everyone Wednesday–Sunday, Dec. 26–30. The Burke is open daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

When the weather is drizzly or you just need to get out of the house in the days following Christmas, head to the Burke for a look around.

Special activities for the week include:

  • Dec. 26–30, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.: hands-on crafts and activities
  • Dec. 26–30, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.: photo booth and memory book
  • Dec. 26–29, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.: meet paleontolgists working on Tufts Love the Tyrannosaurus rex (more about this guy below)
  • Dec. 26–30, 11:30–noon: storytelling for kids
  • Dec. 26–30, 2 p.m.: tiny talks from Burke staff and docents highlighting interesting stories uncovered in prepping to move the museum's collections

More for families

A highlight of a visit to the Burke is the Tyrannosaurus rex skull that Burke paleontologists discovered a couple of years ago. The T. rex skeleton is one of only 15 ever discovered. Museum visitors can watch as paleontologists work to carefully chip away the rock and sand surrounding the skull — while not harming the 66-million-year-old bones. The Burke's team working on the skull recently confirmed they've found 100% of the skull bones so it's a complete set. The T. rex is nicknamed "Tufts-Love" Rex after the two scientists who found it.

T. rex Tufts Love skull at the Burke Museum final week free
T. rex skull preparation at the Burke Museum. Image courtesy of the Burke Museum.

More fun for families at the Burke includes walking through a cave replica in the Life and Times of Washington State display. The cave was formed when an ancient rhino was trapped by a lava flow! This exhibit prompts visitors to imagine who and what was roaming the lands and waters of our state before our houses, schools, roads and parks were built. Tip: Check out the 20,000-year-old saber-toothed cat that might have been your neighbor should you have lived at the same time.

The Pacific Voices exhibit highlights cultural traditions of people who live along the Pacific Rim, and how groups of people pass their traditions on to their descendants. Take a look at the baskets and handcrafts of Northwest Coast people, and learn about efforts to preserve the local native language Lushootseed. You can also learn about the Northwest Coast Native mask that inspired the Seahawks logo.

The Burke Museum is located on the northwest corner of the University of Washington campus. The new Burke building, located nearby the current building, is under construction now and will open later in 2019.

For more local exhibits of interest to families, showcasing topics from Vikings to Polaroids, check out 6 kid-friendly museum exhibits to visit now. For more ways to keep busy during winter break, consult our list of 35 winter break activities for families.

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