Bishop Museum

by Stu Dent

Want to get away from the fast pace of everyday living and spend a day stimulating an awareness and appreciation of our natural and cultural world where Hawaiian culture and history come alive? If so, stop what you are doing, pack a picnic basket and he ad out to Bishop Museum.

Bishop Museum is located at 1525 Bernice Street in the heart of Kalihi, just eight miles from Waikiki. To get there from Waikiki, head west on the H-1 freeway and take the Likelike Highway Exit 20A just past the Houghtailing cut-off. The ramp will take you on a one hundred eighty degree turn before you find yourself on the Likelike Highway. Then switch over to the far right lane very carefully but quickly as Bernice Street is the very first right turn. After taking this right turn, the Bishop Museum Entrance is on the right side of the road. If you are traveling from the Leeward side, the exit from the freeway is not quite as challenging. Just take the Likelike Highway Exit 20A and follow that road. Be sure to get into the right hand lane as Bernice Street is the first right turn.

The museum provides free on-grounds parking or one can also park outside on the street. For those of you who are staying in Waikiki, also available are guided tours which you can inquire about with a travel agent or you can take a ride on the Waikiki Trolley via Stop #10. Bishop Museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except Christmas). Admission is $7.95 for adults, $6.95 for youths 6 to 17 years, and free for children under 6. Also available, is membership which gives you unlimited free admission to the museum and planetarium for an entire year, discounts, and many other privileges. For more information, call (808) 847-3511.

Designated as the State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charges Reed Bishop as a memorial to his beloved wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendent of Kamehameha the Great. He not only bequeathed this memorial for his wife but he left behind a legacy for all people and the generations to follow.

As you enter the museum at the top of the stairs, located straight to the front is the information center where a very cheerful volunteer greets visitors, gives direction and answers any questions. To the left of the information center is Bishop Museum's gift shop filled with many fine memorabilia including fine hand carved koa wood and hand crafted feather headbands.

Just past the ticket booth, make your first stop at the museum's Planetarium, the only one in the state. You'll quickly forget the outside world as you watch the skies projected overhead and experience the captivating audio and visual presentations that one minute take you back in time and the next chart new paths to the future. In the lobby, you can wonder around and discover how the ancient Polynesians migrated using the stars for direction, the different canoes that they built depending on the ocean currents, the tools used to build these canoes and much more.

Further down is the main exhibit gallery, which is the original construction of Bishop Museum. When first entering this building, there is a noticeable musty odor such that of old antique wood. Built of lava rock with interior surfaces of carved native koa wood, the elegant, three-story Hawaiian Hall stands as a preeminent example of 19th century exhibition design. The reign of the Hawaiian monarchy is displayed in full detail with royal treasures ranging from finely worked feather capes and drums, to ornamental helmets. Also on permanent display are artifacts depicting Hawaii's diverse cultures, such as, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Okinawan, and Korean. Come and see a 50-foot sperm whale suspended from the ceiling, and a Hawaiian grass hale (house). While walking through the exhibits, discover how volcanoes shaped our islands, how life developed here and who discovered the "Sandwich Islands".

Also located on the lower level are carved wooden images of the Hawaiian gods, and weapons. You will especially enjoy the displays of utensils and containers, called calabashes, that are carved from Koa, a rich brown wood native to the islands, and formed in many shapes and sizes. All the exhibits are translated also in Japanese for those visiting from Japan. A minimum of one hour is recommended in order to enjoy this living adventure and to be able to completely grasp entirely this unforgettable showcase of both the natural and cultural history of Hawaii and the entire Pacific.

Hawaiian Hall is also the site of Bishop Museum's new cultural program currently featuring the popular Brothers Cazimero. Offered Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, "Hawaii From the Heart" is an enchanting evening filled with history, music and dance, complete with a gourmet picnic supper presented in a souvenir lau hala basket.

Walk twenty yards to the right side of the main building and find the Castle Memorial Building where changing exhibits are featured. Currently featured are "Science in Toyland" (located on the lower level) from October 5, 1995 through January 7, 1996, and "What About Aids?" (located up the stairs) from September 30, 1995 through January 2, 1996. To find out what is currently featured here, you can call (808) 847-3511.

Family Sunday at Bishop Museum is an island tradition which is enjoyed by Hawaii families. On the first Sunday of every month, the Bishop Museum doors are open free to all Hawaii residents and military personnel. You and your family can gather together with other families to experience the wonders of Hawaiian natural history and culture through exhibits, planetarium shows, entertainment and activities. Hula performances, Hawaiian craft demonstrations, children's games and activities, and food and craft booths are featured. But you don't have to be a Hawaii family or military personnel to enjoy this fun filled day of activities and exhibits.

Other Museum galleries include the Hall of Natural History which focuses on the geology, flora and fauna of Hawaii, Polynesian Hall which houses Pacific Island artifacts and hall of Discovery, a "please touch" gallery for children which features hands-on cultural and natural history exhibits.

There is no limit as to what you can take advantage of at Bishop Museum. You can enjoy your nutritious picnic lunch on the great uninterrupted outdoor lawn. With its library and archives facilities, one can research his or her genealogy and the history of Hawaii in depth. You can also rent some of the museum's facilities for conventions, meetings or family gatherings.

Stimulating is a suitable word to describe the kind of day you are likely to have when visiting Bishop Museum. The Bishop Museum is more than a showcase for the Kamehameha family heirlooms, the world's largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifact s and natural history specimens. It is a great place to visit whether you are a kamaaina or a visitor to the beautiful island of Oahu. It is a place of wonderment and adventure. E Komo Mai! (Come In!)

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