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Museums in Hawaii

Bishop Museum Honolulu, Hawaii

The Bishop Museum in Honolulu [Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/ Tor Johnson].

There are numerous museums in Hawaii that would delight anyone who loves history, science or culture. From historical military museums to Polynesian history centers and Hawaiian art galleries, there are a variety of options for you to explore. Whatever Hawaiian island you are visiting, the list below should provide some useful suggestions about exciting museums in your area.

Oahu: Honolulu is the place to be for historic landmarks and museums. The award-winning Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is one of the largest museums in the Pacific and is a must-see for all who want to gain knowledge about Hawaiian culture and history. In the capital city there are also the: Damien Museum (for those interested in the life and service of Father Damien), Hawaii State Art Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, John Young Museum of Art, Mission House Museum (which documents Hawaii’s 19th century missionary period) and Lucoral Museum (which highlights gemstones, fossils and geologic treasures from around the globe). You can also learn more about the Aloha State’s strategic role in World War II at various military museums, such as the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor, Battleship Missouri Memorial and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park.

Maui: The museums in Maui range from outdoor historical exhibitions to sugar industry museums and local artist galleries. At the Hana Cultural Center & Museum, visitors can view a historic jail, courthouse, traditional Hawaiian hale (or house) and history museum. Guests can find out more about Hawaii’s sugar industry and of the important role sugar has played in Hawaii’s past at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum. In the historic town of Lahaina, families can learn about the whaling industry at the Whaler’s Village Museum or the Lahaina Heritage Museum. For art lovers, Maui also has the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao, Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului and Bailey House Museum in Wailuku.

Kauai: There are museums, galleries and parks on every side of Kauai. In Lihue, the Kauai Museum holds collections by native artists on the island. The Grove Farm Homestead Museum is a historic home on over 100 acres of former sugar plantation land. Kids can enjoy the Kauai Children’s Discovery Museum in Lihue.

On the western side of the island, there is the Koke’e Natural History Museum where adventure lovers can learn about the geology, wildlife and history of Waimea Canyon and surrounding Koke’e State Park area. In Waimea, there is the Waimea Sugar Mill Camp Museum; while near Princeville, there is the Wai’oli Mission House museum, dating back to the 1830’s.

Big Island: With a wide array of unusual landscapes and a wealth of history, the museums on the Big Island are unique and varied. One of the most popular venues is located within the ever-changing terrain of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here families can wander through an informative gallery offering insights about Hawaii’s volcanoes at the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum.

The Big Island also has some noteworthy cultural museums as well, such as the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, covering 180 acres of wooden carvings and temples.   The Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historical Site is an outdoor exhibit with the biggest heiau in Hawaii, which was built by King Kamehameha in the 1790’s. Coffee-lovers can venture down to South Kona where there is the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. Here guests can learn about the history of Hawaii’s coffee industry and how Kona coffee is produced today.

For those staying in Hilo, another major tourist attraction is the Imiloa Astronomy Center, which was designed to resemble Hawaii’s volcanoes and filled with informative galleries and hands-on experiences for people of all ages to enjoy. Other Hilo favorites are the Lyman House Memorial Museum, which keeps a collection highlighting Hawaiian culture and treasures from the sea. The Mokupapapa Discovery Center is geared towards families who love marine life and Hawaiian natural history. The Pacific Tsunami Museum of Hilo features details about past tsunamis and ocean patterns. Finally, the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy is situated near Mauna Kea offering stargazing opportunities as well as details about the astronomical projects underway at the center.

Molokai: History buffs can visit the R. W. Meyer Sugar Mill Museum and cultural center near Kualapu’u for a glance into Molokai’s past.

While planning your trip to the 50th State, be sure to add one of these museums to your list of Hawaii activities.


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