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The Burke Museum at The University of Washington Seeks Project Manager

The Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture, located on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle, is involved in a multi-year transformation project that will culminate in a new museum facility. The Burke Museum states, "The 'New Burke' will be a groundbreaking museum of natural history and culture that inspires wonder and pride about the Pacific Northwest and its place in the world."

Typically, museums display only a small percentage of their objects. The New Burke will break down barriers between public and 'back-of-house' spaces, integrating collections and research labs with traditional galleries to create an experience that invites everyone—from curators to visitors, educators to students—to engage in the dynamic process of scientific and cultural discovery.

On behalf of the Burke Museum, the University of Washington has commissioned Olson Kundig Architects to design the new museum. Schematic design began in January. Architectural and exhibit design are expected to be completed by next year. The Burke Museum hopes to begin construction the following year, with a goal of opening the new facility in 2018 or 2019.

As a critical team member of the Director’s Office, the Project Manager works closely with the Executive Director to serve as the critical link between the Burke Museum and the Capital Projects Office, UW Architect’s Office, the design team, and the construction team for the New Burke. The primary purposes of this position are: to serve as a single, internal point of communication who can manage the Burke Museum’s response to requests from external parties; and to facilitate decision-making and ensure follow-through by the Director to keep the project moving ahead on schedule. He or she has knowledge of all facets of the Burke Museum’s operations, is fully committed to the mission of the Burke Museum, and advocates strongly for building decisions that support both the Burke Museum’s operations and its mission.

In terms of project management, the Project Manager serves as the Burke Museum’s primary liaison with all working groups associated with the building project and lead vendors, with delegated authority to represent the museum in lieu of the Director. He or she consolidates information from all meetings, documents and strategic interactions to make
recommendations to the Director on how to move the project forward, and serves as an internal
consultant on all building-related matters.

With CPO, the Project Manager ensures that operational standards for critical museum functions are established and
communicated to all external parties. He or she represents the interests of the Burke Museum in communication with external parties, and bring concerns to Burke Museum leadership as needed for resolution.

The Project Manager arranges logistics and facilitate internal working group meetings based on the needs of the
project communicated by Burke Museum leadership. He or she works closely with staff to provide consistent and
accurate information that will ensure their continued commitment to the building project; works to resolve communication or planning issues that arise between internal working groups in a manner that provides optimal benefit to the Burke Museum; brings in key Burke Museum leaders to support resolution if issues escalate; and coordinates with key staff to identify and pursue government grant opportunities to fund capital.

In terms of project logistics, the Project Manager will organize meetings of various working groups (collections, visitor experience, IT, etc.); determine the location of meetings, invite attendees, organize agenda and coordinate comfort items for all meetings; synthesize and communicate information and outcomes to all appropriate parties; ensure that building decisions and design solutions are executed within the scope of the project’s schedule and budget; track
and report on project milestones and provide status reports to team, stakeholders, and sponsors; maintain project schedules and budgets, and review/approve invoices from consultants; and allocate resources for specific project management related matters, such as meeting rooms, speaker honorariums, and travel expenses.

In terms of project communication, the Project Manager will gather information at each meeting, synthesize/analyze information and ensure the appropriate people – internal or external – follow up with next steps in a timely manner; report information to Burke Museum decision-makers, and communicate key decisions points to keep the project moving forward; sit in meetings as an independent Burke Museum representative as needed; ensure that all
decisions are made and conveyed in a timely manner; communicate Burke Museum goals, expectations and project criteria to external parties (consultants and other University of Washington units) to team members and stakeholders;
produce regular written communications that document project progress and share with others both in the museum and outside; and produce milestone reports and present at meetings of museum staff, board, and stakeholders.

The Project Manger must have a bachelor’s degree in business, operations management or related field; a minimum two years’ experience coordinating projects within a team environment; familiarity with the operational needs of a natural history museum; the ability to communicate clearly with diverse groups that include architects, museum staff,
designers, board members, etc.; demonstrated skills in teamwork and collaboration with colleagues of varied backgrounds and areas of expertise; the ability to remain neutral and retain objectivity, always advocating for decisions that benefit the museum as a whole; the ability to maintain confidentialities, elicit cooperation, and garner trust of all parties; and the ability to exercise initiative and good judgment in anticipating problems before they arise. He or she must be extremely organized and detail oriented, and have strong communication skills, both written and spoken.

The Burke Museum would prefer that candidates have experience with industry project management tactics, processes, and software; experience working with museum staff, funders, architects, designers, engineers, and
construction managers; knowledge of museum operations, including collections care, research activities, pest
management, environmental controls, security, maintenance, visitor needs, and staff support; an understanding of how building systems support museum-specific operations; and familiarity with the organizational structure of a natural history museum.

Interested parties should apply online. Enter Req # 104674.

The Burke Museum celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2010. On their own initiative, members of the Young Naturalists Society founded the museum and erected a museum building on the University of Washington campus to house their growing collection of natural history artifacts.

In 1899, the state legislature designated the museum as the Washington State Museum. The Burke Museum acquired its current name and existent building in 1962, through a bequest from the Caroline McGilvra Burke (1857-1932) estate in honor of her late husband, Judge Thomas Burke (1849-1925). The Thomas Burke Papers 1875-1925 are in the Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries.

He was a former Chief Judge of the Washington State Supreme Court and a lawyer for the Great Northern Railway who raised money for worthy causes and once talked an angry mob out of an anti-Chinese riot. Burke sat on the Whitman College board of overseers for over a decade and was a patron of both Whitman College and the University of Washington. Andrew Carnegie himself recruited Burke to become a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Judge Burke and Mrs. Burke were both interested in formal education for American Indians. She was also a collector of Indian artifacts.

They had married on October 5, 1879. One of he bride-groom's law partners was the bride's brother, Oliver C. McGilvra. Caroline McGilvra Burke was the daughter of Judge John J. McGilvra (1827-1903) and Elizabeth (Hills) McGilvra.

Mrs. Burke worked on a food conservation campaign during the First Great World War, participated in the Red Cross, supported the Ladies' Relief Society, Camp Fire Girls, the Seattle Garden Club, the Lighthouse for the Blind, and the Seattle Historical Society. She was a member of the Seattle Tennis Club, the Sunset Club, the Seattle Golf Club, and the Garden Club.

Robert Carrington Nesbit wrote He Built Seattle: A Biography of Judge Thomas Burke. University of Washington Press published it in 1961.

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