The Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Pauahi was the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. The museum displays a large collection of Hawaiian artifacts, documents and photographs about Hawai‘i and other Pacific island cultures. The Bishop museum is actually a group of buildings each housing its own unique exhibits. The Hawaiian Hall contains Hawaiian and Pacific Island exhibits. The Castle Memorial Building contains traveling exhibits which change every few months. The Science Adventure Center focuses on the geology/geography of Hawaii – volcanoes, plants, and animals. The Planetarium is well, a planetarium!
* Get there early and plan to spend at least half a day there. Check the Daily Activity Schedule when you arrive so you can catch some free tours, a planetarium show, and the lava melting demo.
* Be sure to check out the traveling exhibit at the Castle Memorial Building. Quite often there are exhibits there that are geared toward children. No kids in tow? Go anyways, you may be surprised. During the Hawaiian Hall renovation (now through Summer 2009), the second floor of the Castle Building houses the “Pauahi – A Legacy for Hawaii” exhibit. See artifacts from Hawaiian royalty: David Kalakaua, Princess Ruth Ke’elikolani, Queen Emma, Kamehameha the Great, and of course Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. There is also an interesting film showing early images of Hawaii circa 1906.
* The Hawaiian Hall is currently undergoing renovation. It is scheduled to reopen in Summer 2009. Parts of the building are now open to the public: See the Kahili room, which houses the elegant feather standards, which were the traditional symbols of the Hawaiian ali’i (rulers). Upstairs, you will find the “Peoples of the Pacific” exhibit displaying costumes, masks, carvings, weapons, tools, and miscelleous artifacts from the Marquesas Islands, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Easter Island, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, and Tonga. Don’t miss the Historic Picture Gallery on the second floor which displays art from the Bishop Museum’s extensive collection.
* The Planetarium has an interesting exhibit on global warming and has shows scheduled throughout the day.
* The Science Center has many exhibits that are interesting to both children and adults:
- The centerpiece of the museum is a walk-in volcano housing exhibits about the geology of volcanoes. You can see and touch the different types of lava rocks. There is a tunnel and a small slide for children. Upstairs, you can look inside the mouth of the volcano and see the “molten lava”. Children can push buttons to show the effect of magma and gas on the volcano. Every 15 minutes or so the volcano will erupt!
- Walk through the colorful black-light glowing Hawaiian Origins tunnel featuring the artwork of Hawaii’s school children.
- A “kid-favorite” at the Science Center is the “Make your own wax volcano” exhibit. By turning a knob in one direction, you can make hot wax erupt and slowly build a volcano. By turning the knob in the other direction, the wax recedes and a crater is formed. This exhibit is a kid-magnet. What’s great about it is that children naturally cooperatively take turns at turning the knob (mostly because their little hands get tired) and it is just as much fun to watch as to do!
- Another kid-favorite is the large tank of water with a deep-sea submersible that you can control. The attached video camera allows you to “see what it sees” on the screen in front of you. There is also a dress-up area, some live small-animal exhibits, a lava film, and miscelleanous other fun things to do.