SEATTLE — The new Burke Museum re-opened Saturday after nearly two years of construction.

There are giant skeletons of creatures that once roamed Washington state, a room full of Northwest artisans keeping their culture alive, and everywhere you look, busy researchers at work.

“The excitement is palpable and the building is so ready to receive our new visitors,” said Kate Fernandez, the Burke’s director of interpretation and visitor experience.

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More than three years in the making, the $99 million facility is 66% larger than the old Burke Museum. The concept is “inside-out.”

“We felt it was so important to break down the barriers that existed between the public and museums in the past,” said Fernandez.

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Visitors will see more of the 16 million objects in the collection, and they will be able to meet researchers at work. In the past, all of that would have been behind locked doors.

“Every day you can see the work of the Burke happening here in the different workspaces,” said Fernandez.

The new Burke offers something new on every floor. The first floor is dedicated to contemporary culture and Northwest art. It even includes a coastal art interpretation of the Fremont Troll.

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The second floor is dedicated to biology, and the third floor offers archaeology and paleontology. There you can see a massive T. rex skull recently discovered in Montana.

“We now believe it is the most complete and finest T. rex in a museum collection today,” said Fernandez.

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