Burien Is the Ideal Location for the Highline Heritage Museum

Burien Is the Ideal Location for the Highline Heritage Museum Main Photo

27 Jul 2022

Success Stories

To Nancy Salguero McKay, Executive Director of the Highline Heritage Museum, having the museum be located in Burien made a lot of sense (The Highline area includes the cities of Burien, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and White Center). To her, Burien has always been a vibrant, dynamic town. “Burien is always evolving, changing, and bringing in something new,” she said. She finds the people of Burien are part of a “cool community,” and to her, “cultivating and providing a healthy environment for everyone will only make this town better.”

The Highline Heritage Museum began with the founding of the Burien Heritage Society in 1994. Highline is the geographic area in Southwest King County immediately to the south of the City of Seattle. The museum tells stories through multiple mediums - exhibits, collections, special events, and projects. But as Executive Director, Nancy wishes to “go beyond what museums used to be, progressing to a combination of current and historical exhibits, in-person and with digital content/programming.” Burien has been a big supporter. “Recently, the city made proclamations for Black History and Women’s History months, and we worked on them together. We also collaborated on a city website and helped launch a present and a historic map of what’s going on in the community. We are constantly engaging with the city. It’s a very strong relationship. And it’s only increasing”, she says. 

Honoring A Varied Heritage: Bridging The Years Through Stories

To the museum, representing the families of the 19,000 kids in the Highline School District, and telling their stories, is of paramount importance. The museum actively engages with these students. “We launched a pandemic storytelling project. As a curator, my need to preserve stories from the pandemic and the current scenario is huge.  We end up having deeper conversations. For example, on the day of the Capitol attack, I was working with middle school kids, and they were scared. A way to diminish this fear was to be neutral, so we asked - “How can we highlight this as a community and use this as an opportunity for unity?”

Preserving a rich and diverse history is a big part of the Burien community. 

“As a history museum, we can bring more voices to the table. The way voices coming together in the city is amazing; the volunteers are so determined, and the projects are inspiring. The work that will be coming through in the next few months is a representation of who we are as a community,” Nancy affirms.

The museum receives myriad requests -  to collaborate on exhibits and programming for events like The Day of the Dead. “As an open institution,” Nancy says, “We aim to collaborate on the historic component while honoring the people's heritage.”

The museum is enthused to see groups that are working together to build a healthy ecosystem in the city of Burien. “There’s a lot of public art on display in Burien, and there will be even more. As a museum, we want to bring in the artist component - Burien Arts Association and Artists United represent the diverse and rich art community we have in the city.” 

Highline Heritage Museum A Community And A Museum: Working Together To Make It Happen

As for the city of Burien, she says that it is a “cool, hipster town that is not afraid to do something crazy and fun!” Festivals and fun activities together make the city an engaging and terrific place to live in, she says. “The Burien Creative District has come up with a  cohesive plan.  We are beyond the phase of dreaming about a creative community. We are in the doing phase. The museum, the community, and the city are working together to make it happen.”

To Nancy, engaging with the intricacies of a community’s art, history and culture have been nurtured and empowered by the support that comes from a progressive, and inclusive community like Burien. She is elated at the response to every event or exhibit that the museum presents to the community. “In Burien and at our Heritage Museum, we are who we are as a people and a community. We have more things in common than differences, and the city of Burien is resounding with the voice of inclusion, not just racial but touching across a wide spectrum. That is just how progressive this community is, willing to take in everything and embrace everyone.”

Bring Your Artistic Organization or Business to Burien

“Burien is incredibly supportive of arts organizations and businesses. From providing direct support to the Highline Heritage Museum to working with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, our community is actively recruiting artistic and cultural organizations and businesses to our community,” said Chris Craig, Economic Development Manager for the City of Burien. “In addition to being supportive, our community is more affordable than our neighbors, making it easier for nonprofit organizations to flourish here. Contact me if you want to learn more about Burien and how we can help you.” You can learn more about opportunities for creative organizations and companies in Burien here.