Call for artists

ArtsWA and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Due: 4pm (Pacific), March 23, 2018 | $190,000 inclusive of design, fabrication, and installation


Purpose of RFQ

Call for public artists to create a unique artwork for the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture’s new facility, located on the campus of the University of Washington, in Seattle, commissioned through ArtsWA’s Art in Public Places program.

RFQ Description

The Burke Museum and ArtsWA are seeking an individual artist or artist team to create an innovative, interactive, original artwork reflecting the Indigenous traditions of the Pacific Northwest, particularly those of the Coast Salish and/or the other tribes of Washington state, the Plateau and the Cascade region for the Burke Museum Expansion Project. The artwork will be exterior, located on the periphery of the Burke Museum, engaging visitors to the campus and museum.


Mike Sweney, Art in Public Places Program Manager; (360) 586-2422,

Site Visit Requirements

None required for submission. Artists are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Burke Museum’s expansion project via


Digital materials to by 4pm, Friday, March 23, 2018. You should receive confirmation of your submission within one business day. If you are unable to submit electronically, contact Mike Sweney to discuss possible accommodations.

Background on the New Burke Project

The Burke is Washington’s oldest museum and the State Museum of Natural History and Culture since 1899; soon it will be Washington’s newest museum. The new, 113,000 sq. ft. building will be 66% larger than the current facility. Nearly 60% of the museum will be accessible or visible to visitors (compared to just over 30% today). Twelve visible, state-of-the-art labs and an artists’ workshop will serve more students and researchers, and more education space will allow the Burke to potentially double the number of Pre-K–12 students served each year.

A Museum Inside-Out
The New Burke will break down traditional museum barriers, integrating exhibit spaces with research labs and visible collections storage and inviting visitors to be part of a working museum.

The Building and Landscape
Designed by architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig and landscape architect Shannon Nichols of GGN, the New Burke combines dramatic views of objects with Northwest features like sustainable wood siding, plants that are all native to the Northwest, and a shed-style roof inspired by traditional Coast Salish dwellings.

A Nexus of Change
The New Burke will be sited along 15th Ave. NE between NE 43rd St. and NE 45th St. The New Burke will transform the northwest corner of UW campus, engaging directly with the community and welcoming visitors from the new U District light rail station, which is expected to serve 18,000—20,000 people per day. As a new tourist attraction, the New Burke will support efforts to revitalize the U District.

Design Highlights

  • Expands the museum by 45,000 square feet
  • The form and materials of the building façade reference traditional structures from tribes of the area including a shed-style roof and vertical plank siding. The rhythm of elements of the building are human scaled and reference the native forests that once covered significant parts of the region.
  • Creates an exterior green space/civic plaza area for events and community gatherings.
  • Increases protection of the museum’s collections.

Museum Vision for the Art

ArtsWA and the Burke Museum Art Selection Committee will select an artist or artist team to create an exterior artwork that engages the museum and its visitors in an interactive experience, reflecting the Indigenous traditions of the Pacific Northwest, particularly those of the Coast Salish and/or the other tribes of Washington state, the Plateau and the Cascade region while remaining unique and contemporary.

It is highly desirable that the artwork reflect on the aesthetics and traditions of the Coast Salish people while remaining unique and contemporary.

Project Schedule

Construction has begun. Installation of the artwork is expected to occur in late summer or early fall of 2019. The facility will open to the public in October of 2019.


The project budget will be roughly $190,000, inclusive of design, travel, structural engineering, materials, fabrication, installation, artist fee, and other associated project costs.

Commission and Agreement

The artwork will be commissioned through the Washington State Arts Commission’s Art in Public Places program. Artists will coordinate work with ArtsWA and the Burke Museum staff.

An agreement between ArtsWA and the artist or artist team will formalize budget, schedule and artwork design.


The opportunity to compete for this project is open to established professional artists residing in the United States or British Columbia. Artists who have a historic and/or artistic connection to the tribal peoples of this region are strongly encouraged to apply. Artists who currently live in Washington State or who have lived in Washington are preferred. Neither ArtsWA nor the Burke Museum discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, or gender identity.

The selected artist will be expected to:

  • Design and propose an artwork for review and approval by ArtsWA staff, professional conservators, and the Burke Museum Art Selection Committee;
  • Travel to the project site up to three times during the proposal/design process to meet with the Art Selection Committee and ArtsWA project manager;
  • Work within the fixed budget;
  • Maintain registration as a Washington State vendor and adhere to applicable state permitting and licensing requirements, including those relating to contracting and the paying of Prevailing Wages; and
  • Enter into contracts with ArtsWA and fulfil those requirements, including paying applicable taxes.

Selection Process

The Art Selection Committee is made up of local stakeholders including Burke Museum and University of Washington staff, and is facilitated by ArtsWA staff. The panel will review submitted portfolios and materials of all applicants and select an artist or artist team to create a proposal and artwork for the Burke Museum.

The criteria used by the Art Selection Committee will include:

  • Appropriate materials. Evidence of the artist’s ability to execute artwork utilizing durable materials that are appropriate for an exterior, public space;
  • Site responsiveness. Evidence of the artist’s ability to create artwork that addresses the physical and/or community context of its placement; and
  • Artistic excellence. Evidence of some or all of the following: mastery of skills and techniques, professional approaches to process and presentation, and/or communication of unique vision or perspective.

The Art Selection Committee may opt to not select an artist from this submission process, if, in its collective opinion, no applications meet its expectations.


Artists interested in this project must prepare and submit the following set of documents:

  • A letter of interest outlining your approach to public art as well as providing the Art Selection Committee with insights regarding your interest in making art for the Burke Museum; what you bring to the project as an artist; experience with other projects with a similar scope; any previous experience you have had incorporating art into the built environment; and any other comments that might help to differentiate you as a candidate for this program. Please also provide your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Not to exceed one page. PDF or DOC format.
  • A professional resume/CV (limit 2 pages). Artists working collaboratively must submit a resume/CV for each member. PDF or DOC format.
  • 10 images of past works, preferably created within past 5 years. 1,000 pixels on the long side, 72 pixels/inch minimum, file size less than 1 MB. Named uniquely. JPG format.
  • An annotated image list in one document with a limit of 10 images in jpeg format of past works. Please indicate the title, dimensions, materials, date of work, and locations, as well as project budget and commissioning entity, if applicable.
  • References: A list of at least three professional references from past projects. The list must include complete addresses and telephone numbers.

Antiicpated Art Project Selection Timeline

  • RFQ distributed: Week of February 19, 2018
  • All materials due: Friday, March 23, 2018, 4:00 PM Pacific Time
  • First Art Selection Committee review: April 2018
  • Second/final Art Selection Committee review: late April / early May 2018
  • Notification to selected artist: mid-May 2018
  • (Committee may decide to interview 2-3 finalists before making selection)
  • Artist site visit: late May 2018
  • Design: June 2018 through January 2019
  • Fabrication: March 2019 through July 2019
  • Anticipated artwork installation: August-September 2019

In order to avoid technical problems, artists are encouraged to submit well in advance of the deadline. Late submittals will not be accepted.

Due Date and Time: Friday, March 23, 2018, 4PM Pacific Time


∧ back to TOP