STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
Hulihee Palace in Kailua-Kona closed Monday for nine months of repairs, and the museum intends to reinvent itself.
Hulihee Palace closes for renovations
KAILUA-KONA » Disaster has turned into an opportunity for Hulihee Palace to reinvent itself.
The palace, a museum of 19th-century Hawaiian royalty in Kona, closed Monday for nine months of repairs to damages done by the Oct. 15, 2006, earthquake, said David Scott, spokesman for the Daughters of Hawaii, which operates the museum.
The building will be restored and the interpretive arrangement of objects inside will be redesigned to be interactive, and appealing to younger visitors, Scott said.
The driving question, he said, is: "How are we going to engage this new generation?"
The 6.7-magnitude earthquake of 2006, followed by a 6.0 aftershock, left the building fairly sound, but with external and internal plaster broken and rocks in the second-story part of its walls displaced.
The Legislature in the spring approved $1 million for repairs to the state-owned structure. The money wasn't enough to cover strengthening for future quakes, Scott said.
Dropped were preliminary plans that would have lifted the whole roof, placed sheets of plywood underneath, and then replaced the roof, he said. Similar plans to remove the upstairs flooring to place plywood underneath also were abandoned.
The delicate interior plaster work was bid on by mainland craftsmen without a site inspection, he said. When the craftsmen were flown to Hawaii, a direct inspection allowed a lower bid, he said.
The two-story building has been emptied of all historical objects, creating an opportunity for new arrangements, Scott said.
One concept is to make the museum more like a library, where patrons come in knowing what book they want rather than waiting until a librarian recommends something.
Each museum visitor might be interested in a certain kind of question, he said. "How is it made?" or "What was it for?"
Referring to the Internet encyclopedia that readers can edit themselves, Scott said, "There's almost a Wikipedia concept to it."