More than $5,000 in donations poured in to Hawaii Plantation Village to save the historic museum from closing. Jose Afaga, a worker at the village in 1996, took a break on the steps of one of the old-style plantation homes.

Flood of donations
keeps Plantation
Village open

Officials thank the community
for helping to save the museum

By Rosemarie Bernardo

With a flow of donations and a jump in attendance, Hawaii Plantation Village officials say they now hope the museum can remain open despite budget problems that threatened to shut the historic attraction.

Art "We were touched that people around the state, even in Canada, came to help us and were sympathetic with us," said Executive Director Lynn Valiente.

More than $5,000 was donated to the plantation village since the Star-Bulletin published a story and an editorial last month on the museum's financial troubles.

The village had been hurt by falling attendance and budget cuts from the state Foundation on Culture and the Arts. But attendance has jumped at least 20 percent within the last three weeks, Valiente said.

She has also been receiving about 50 calls a day from concerned citizens offering help to prevent the plantation village from closing.

Along with donations from isle residents and local organizations, the museum was awarded a $6,500 grant Wednesday from the Hawaii Community Foundation to help fund both family activities at the museum and bus fares for Waipahu students to attend the museum.

Between 700 and 1,000 people use the facilities at the plantation village every month, Valiente said. Admission to the village costs $2 for students, $7 for adults, $5 for kamaaina and military, and $4 for senior citizens.

The Hawaii Plantation Village first opened in September 1992, displaying original structures and replica homes of multiethnic groups who arrived to Hawaii between the late 1800s and the 1940s to work as plantation laborers. Members of the museum believe it is vital for successive generations to learn about Hawaii's plantation history, which helped create the state's multiethnic society.

Mitsuo Shito, former president and one of the founders of the Hawaii Plantation Village, said he is optimistic the museum will remain open.

"If the community comes forward, we will survive. Without their support it will be an uphill battle," said Shito, who also served as a state representative for Waipahu from 1974 to 1988. "We will do everything possible to preserve the plantation village."

Plantation Village members are planning a fund-raiser at Waikele Golf Course on Aug. 30. A barbecue chicken sale also is planned for September.

Shito also said he is interested in talking with tourism officials to help the plantation village bring tourists to the museum. Shito plans to suggest incorporating a tour of the plantation village with the USS Missouri tour because of the two attractions' proximity from each other.

E-mail to City Desk


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