March 23, 2010

"What is that?" A series on the outdoor artwork at the Burke, Part 1

One frequently asked question at the Burke Museum is: “What is that large leaf-like sculpture outside on the east lawn of the museum?” Well, it’s a cast bronze sculpture called Pluma by Seattle artist Mark Calderon.

What is it doing in front of the Burke Museum? In 1999, Pluma was gifted to the Burke Museum by The Committee of 33, a civic group dedicated to the enhancement and beautification of the City of Seattle. The Committee of 33 commissioned Calderon, whose sculptures often find influence in nature, to create a piece for the front lawn of the museum.

Calderon wanted to create a sculpture that reflected the Burke’s role as a museum of natural and anthropological history. Before sketching designs, he studied the museum’s collections as well as books on shells, plants, and fossils. “I inundated myself with images to expand my knowledge of natural history, the Burke Museum, and its mission,” he explained. The result was Pluma, a half-ton bronze sculpture that resembles an undulating leaf.

Pluma has welcomed visitors to the museum for the past decade and is among many beautiful outdoor art installations on the UW campus. Keep reading the Burke Blog to learn more about the outdoor artwork at the Burke Museum!

Posted by: MaryAnn Barron Wagner, Communications