Spending a few hours in Hawaii's largest museum is one of the best ways to really get to know America's 50th state. Highlights include exhibits on Polynesian culture, 22 million specimens of animal and plant life and an "active" volcano display.
Discover the natural and cultural history of Hawaii at the Bishop Museum. The museum was founded in 1898 as a place to display the family heirlooms of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. Today the museum is the premier cultural and natural history museums in the Pacific, with an ever-changing schedule of exhibitions and daily interactive programs.
Explore Hawaiian Hall, renovated in 2009, where the three floors correspond to the physical and spiritual realms of the Hawaiian people: Kai Äkea, the wide expanse of the sea; Wao Känaka, the realm of man; and Wao Lani, the heavenly realm. Through songs, chants, and mo'olelo stories, you'll discover the voices of Hawaiians, past and present.
As one of the top natural history museums, the Bishop Museum collection includes 14 million insect specimens, 6 million seashells, 500,000 marine invertebrates, 490,000 plant specimens, and 130,000 fish specimens. The impressive collection also boasts 2.4 million Pacific and Hawaiian artifacts and 1 million historic photographs with which to tell the stories of the islands and their people.
The Bishop Museum includes five separate buildings, all of which are free with your admission. Don't miss the Science Adventure Center—the "active" volcano display is a hit with kids. Visiting exhibitions run the gamut of themes, from historic surfboards to Sesame Street and the Korean War to depictions of K?, the god of procreation, prosperity, and warfare.
The Bishop Museum is not terribly large by standards of many metropolitan museums, but a thorough visit of all its unique and poignant exhibitions can easily take three or more hours. Fortunately the on-site café offers a range of sandwiches and snacks so you can refuel.
Enjoy a walk through the natural history and rich culture of the Hawaiian Islands and their people, and leave enlightened about the legacy of one of the most biologically and culturally diverse geographical regions on earth.