people in a dinosaur exhibit at the burke museum

Burke Museum

A delightfully-curated Drupal website

The Burke Museum, a prominent cultural institution based in Seattle, needed a Drupal website that highlighted both their scholarly research and their role in public education.


Custom CMS
Drupal Development
Custom Integrations
Content Migration


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Meet the Burke Museum

a woman looks at an artifact

Meet the 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. 

The Burke Museum 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 Museum 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 Challenge

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.
visitors at a burke museum interactive

The Solution

When it came to a new design, the Burke Museum 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 screenshot showing various sizes of the Burke Museum website

The Results

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

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 millions of artifacts were being moved from the old museum to the new one, 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 along with content migration support from the Bear Group team.

Start Your Project

Three Easy Steps:


Contact Us

The first step in working with Bear Group is to fill out our contact form to schedule an introductory call with our team.


Introductory Call

We'll listen to the challenges you are facing and discuss possible solutions. This will give you an idea of how we can help.


Get Started

After you've decided that Bear Group is the right development partner for you, we'll kick off your project and dive right in.