COURTESY OF BISHOP MUSEUM
Dancers take the stage at February's Mary Kawena Pukui Performing Arts Festival. The museum also has a daily Hawaiian music and dance program at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
A museum born of a love story
Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki was a 16-year-old student at Honolulu's Royal School -- run by Protestant missionaries for children of Hawaiian royalty -- when she met Charles Reed Bishop, an American entrepreneur nine years her senior who held no high title or status.
Place: 1525 Bernice St.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas. The museum's library and archives are open free from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
Admission: $15.95 for adults, $12.95 for ages 4 through 12 and ages 65 and older (kamaaina pay $7.95 and $6.95, respectively). Free for kids under 4.
Web site: www.bishopmuseum.org
Smitten by Pauahi's poise and beauty, Bishop began calling on her nearly every evening after their introduction in February 1847. They fell in love and expressed their desire to marry.
Pauahi's parents, however, were vehemently opposed to the union. As a great-granddaughter of Kamehameha the Great, she was betrothed in childhood to Lot, who was later crowned Kamehameha V. Pauahi could have become queen, but she chose instead to follow her heart and wed Bishop in 1850.
As the years passed, family and friends came to see theirs was a special love story that ended only with Pauahi's death in 1884. Five years later, in honor of his beloved wife, Bishop founded Bishop Museum "to record, preserve and tell the stories of Hawaii and the Pacific." Today, its collections include more than 24 million rare objects and specimens from throughout the region.
Hawaiian Hall was built from 1898 to 1903 to display Pauahi's extensive personal collection of Hawaiian artifacts. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is undergoing a $20 million renovation expected to be completed in December 2008.
"While many people consider Hawaiian Hall to be the heart of Bishop Museum, there's still a lot to see and do here while it's closed," said Interim President Mike Chinaka.
"For example, the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center is just over a year old. It houses more than 30 amazing exhibits -- most of them interactive -- on seismology, oceanography, geology, botany and other aspects of Hawaii's unique environment."
COURTESY OF BISHOP MUSEUM
Visitors can explore the inside of a volcano at the Science Adventure Center.
Opened in 1961, the Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium was the museum's first stand-alone space dedicated to interpreting science to the general public. Unlike many other planetariums, which offer either all-live or all-canned presentations, it blends recorded material with live segments for most of its shows.
"The live segments give a human face to the information and allow us to add updates," Chinaka said. "The taped parts allow us to use other voices, such as a Hawaiian storyteller in the Explorers of Polynesia program, and to do more complex audiovisual effects."
Atherton Halau, an open-air long house, serves as a venue for community events and lectures, including a research seminar series on the second Thursday of every month. Recent presentations focused on Hawaii's land snails, freshwater fauna of the Solomon Islands and New Guinea's biologically diverse Asmat region.
Traveling exhibits in the Castle Memorial Building "bring the world to Hawaii," said Chinaka. "They appeal to visitors who are interested in things other than Hawaiiana, whether it be chocolate, the human body or the science behind speed and roller coasters."
Chinaka noted that from its inception, Bishop Museum's mission has been to perpetuate knowledge from the past, make new discoveries and disseminate it to future generations. He said, "We should take the time to learn, experience and appreciate what our forefathers left us, and apply this wisdom as we look forward to tomorrow."
Calendar of events
Here is a schedule of programs and special events during the next few months. Details are available at www.bishopmuseum.org
and in Ka Elele, the museum's quarterly members' journal.
Free with admission:
» "Na Mea Makamae": Learn about the museum's history and treasures at 10 a.m., 12:30 and 3 p.m. at the Hawaiian Hall stairs, Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kahili Room and Vestibule Gallery.
» "Music and Dance of Hawaii": Watch as dancers share stories of Hawaii through the hula at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the Great Lawn.
» "Too Hot to Handle!": What will Earth look like a century from now? The effects of global warming are projected onto a 68-inch, 40-pound white fiberglass sphere suspended from the ceiling. At 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Planetarium lobby, Science on a Sphere.
» "Plants of Paradise": Tour of the gardens at 11:30 a.m. highlights dozens of plants that have been incorporated into the museum's landscaping.
» "The Sky Tonight": Gaze at the Hawaii skies at 11:30 a.m. and learn about the latest space and solar events. This live show changes seasonally as star positions change. In the Planetarium.
» "Footprints": From hurricanes on Earth to the arid surface of Mars, this movie, produced by NASA for this exhibit, provides insights into our dynamic solar system. At noon in the Planetarium lobby, Science on a Sphere.
» "Meet Me at the Hot Spot": Watch rock and cinder melt at 2,700 degrees to create lava. At noon and 2:30 p.m. in the Science Adventure Center, Hot Spot Theatre.
» Explorers of Mauna Kea: Mauna Kea, on the Big Island, is regarded as one of the best places in the world for astronomical research. Find out why at 1:30 p.m. in the Planetarium.
» Solar viewing: A high-powered telescope provides incredible views of the sun and its intriguing sunspots at 2:30 p.m. in the Observatory near the cafe.
» Explorers of Polynesia: Learn how early Polynesian voyagers sailed the vast Pacific thousands of years ago using the winds, stars and ocean currents as their guides. At 3:30 p.m. in the Planetarium.
» "Dinosaurs Alive!":
Journey back to prehistoric times to meet Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor and more in the Castle Memorial Building, first floor, through Jan. 28.
» "Origins of Pacific Seafaring":
Museum archaeologist Tianlong Jiao is the project director for "Lost Maritime Cultures: China and the Pacific," opening Feb. 24. He will speak about some of the seafaring societies believed to be the sources of the Austronesian culture, including the Polynesians, Melanesians, Micronesians and indigenous people of the Southeast Asian archipelagos, that spread throughout the Pacific. From 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 25 at Atherton Halau. General admission is $5; free for museum members.
» Hawaii Maritime Center field trip:
Highlights include screenings of the films "Tahere Tikitiki: The Making of a Maori Canoe" and "Rere Ki Uta Rere Ki Tai: The Voyage." From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 27. General admission is $8; free for museum members.
» "Pauahi: A Legacy for Hawaii": Pauahi's feather cape, jewelry and hats; a feather cloak of Kamehameha the Great; Princess Ruth's buggy; and journals and letters written by the alii will be among the treasures on display. A 25-minute tour of the exhibit will be offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily beginning Feb. 3. An "Ola Na Moolelo: Living Stories" program on a related topic will precede the afternoon tour at 1 p.m. Through July 29 in the Castle Memorial Building, second floor. Additional rotating exhibitions will be on view through December 2008.
» "Mary Kawena Pukui Performing Arts Festival": Representatives from the Inupiat Heritage Center and Alaska Heritage Center, Peabody Essex Museum and New Bedford Whaling Museum of Massachusetts, and Bishop Museum celebrate the theme "Harvest and Moon" through storytelling and dance in honor of Hawaiian scholar and linguist Mary Kawena Pukui. The event also will feature hula, music, and booths selling food, crafts and books. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 18 on the Great Lawn. Admission is $3 general, and free for museum members and children ages 3 and younger.
» "Lost Maritime Cultures: China and the Pacific": Program explores the connections between ancient China and Pacific islands. On view will be pottery, weapons, ornaments, bone and stone tools, and other items that have never been shown outside of China. In the Castle Memorial Building, first floor, Feb. 24 through April 15.
» Second annual benefit dinner: Enjoy a lavish buffet and wine while viewing select oil paintings of Hawaii dating to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Proceeds will support the museum's Picture Gallery and Art Restoration Fund to restore paintings in need of conservation work. At Morton's, Ala Moana Center, 5 to 8 p.m. March 5. The cost is $175 per person. Call 848-4172 for reservations.
» "Mad About Science" fair: Activities and displays on archaeology, marine biology, entomology and other scientific areas will enthrall both adults and kids, March 31 on the Great Lawn.
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based free-lance writer and Society of American Travel Writers award winner.