This paper presents the design, fabrication and tests of a micro-fabricated MEMS 'Chladni' plate resonator. The proposed MEMS resonator has a square plate geometry having a side length of 1400 mu m and a height of 35 mu m. Its geometry and electrode layout are designed to analyze and test as many modes as possible. The MEMS plate is fabricated using a silicon-on-insulator process with a 35 mu m thick < 1 1 1 > silicon layer on a glass substrate. Transverse vibration of the plate is investigated to obtain closed form natural frequencies and mode shapes, which are derived using the Rayleigh-Ritz energy method, with an electrostatic softening effect included. Closed form equations for the calculation of effective stiffness', masses and natural frequencies of the two modes (mode (1,1) and mode (2,0)-(0,2)) are presented, with and without electrostatic softening. The analytical model is verified for those modes by finite-element simulations, frequency response tests in vacuum and laser Doppler vibrometer (LDV) experiments. The derived model deviates from the finite-element analysis by 3.35% for mode (1,1) and 6.15% for mode (2,0)-(0,2). For verification, the frequency responses of the plates are measured with both electrostatic excitation-detection at around 20 m Torr vacuum ambient and LDV at around 0.364 m Torr vacuum ambient. The resonance frequency and Q-factor of mode (1,1) are measured to be 104.2 kHz and 14 300, respectively. For mode (2,0)-(0,2), the measured resonance frequency and Q-factor are 156.68 kHz and 10 700, respectively. The presented LDV results also support both natural frequencies of interest and corresponding mode shapes of the plate structure.