Burke Museum

Custom Drupal Build

Burke Museum

Founded in 1885 and declared the Washington State Museum in 1989, the Burke Museum was the first public museum in Seattle and remains the only major museum of natural history and cultural heritage in the Pacific Northwest. It has been located at the University of Washington throughout its history and has long been an important center for both scholarly research and public education.

In the fall of 2019, Burke Museum completed a major institutional transformation from the typical museum model —where a few key items are on exhibit and collections are down in the archives. Within the new facility, archives are part of the gallery with visible connections to working labs and interactive learning spaces. 

Introducing the new Burke Museum to the world was a multi-decade effort by a highly dedicated team. They had to build a new building and move millions of objects, building exhibits, and get the New Burke ready to open. It was also an opportune time to rebuild the museum website, upgrade it to the latest Drupal 8 platform, and design a new look and feel to better reflect the museum’s new inside-out approach.

The Build

Bear Group was engaged with the Burke on several ongoing updates and small improvements to their Drupal 7 site. We were familiar with the content structure and some of the organizational issues with the original website. Our build included four phases:

  1. A completely redesigned UX to convey the new museum’s visitor experience.

  2. An upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.

  3. A major content audit, migration, and content restructuring.

  4. Integration with Patron Manager CRM and their ticketing and membership systems.

Burke Museum | Bear Group Web Development

The Design

The Burke issued an RFP for the project to locate a design firm in 2018 and obtained proposals from many of the leading design agencies in the Seattle region, ultimately selecting Fell Swoop for the design and UX. Fell Swoop conducted a clarity lab with the full team, followed by a rapid ideation and wireframe phase, interactive comps which were usability tested, and full fidelity color designs. Bear Group participated in the design review sessions and worked closely with Fell Swoop through the design/content phase of the project.

A Revamped Ticketing System

While the design was underway, Bear Group engaged in a technical scoping phase to develop a custom Drupal module to integrate the with PatronManager CRM. The goal was to build an enhanced membership purchasing experience, creating a user-friendly event listing, and styling the PatronManager public ticketing site so it more closely resembled the redesigned Burke Museum Drupal site. 

Site Building

With the new design and information architecture in hand, the new site could be carefully constructed using the tools available in Drupal 8. This included a variety of content types, paragraphs, new entities, and related fields and data types to support the content. The new design was built into a mobile-first, fully responsive Drupal 8 theme.

Migrating Content

The researchers and marketing team at the Burke Museum had generated a significant amount of content in the CMS over the years. Everything from event listings and blog posts to in-depth educational resources for researchers. While the millions of artifacts were being moved from the old museum to the new, the content was also migrated from the old system to the new site. Because the structure of the new system in Drupal 8 could leverage new layout capabilities and the Burke Museum team wanted to optimize content for the new layouts, it made sense to migrate all of the content by hand into the new site. This was mainly done internally by the Burke team utilizing the new intuitive CMS admin which provided clear guidelines. Collaboration also played a key part in the structure as Bear Group’s content manager Alice participated in optimization assets during the large migration phases.

Successful Launch

The site was launched in July 2019 and sections have been unveiled using the publishing option tool in a phased approach leading up to the grand opening, prior to the museum grand opening on October 12, 2019.