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Museums in Oahu

Visiting the Bishop Museum

Bishop Museum.

Home to two-thirds of the population of the Aloha State, Oahu is home to an extensive list of museums which are dedicated to the history, culture and/or art of the Hawaiian Islands as well as of Polynesia. As Oahu is the most visited island in the State, visitors should definitely take advantage of their stay here by visiting some or all of them.

The Bishop Museum: Originally designed and constructed to house Hawaiian artifacts and familial heirlooms of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, today it is home to millions of Hawaiian and Pacific region artifacts and documents including historic photographs. There are daily opportunities for visitors to learn about Hawaiian and Polynesian culture through traditional museum tours as well as through interactive presentations. The museum is considered by virtually everyone as the place to go to whenever anyone wants to learn more about Hawaii’s past.

Honolulu Museum of Art: Formerly known as the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the museum got its start when the family art collection of Anna Rice Cooke and her husband Charles Cooke grew beyond what their home could accommodate. The Cooke’s donated a sizable piece of land and an endowment to construct the museum. Today the museum boasts over 50,000 fine art pieces from Asia, America and Europe. The museum is considered by many to be Hawaii’s most important art museum.

Iolani Palace: This is the former home of Hawaiian royalty and the only royal palace to be found in the United States and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was occupied by the Hawaiian royalty until Queen Lili’uokalani was forced out by a revolt led by American businessmen with the help of US Marines in 1893. Iolani Palace is a portal enabling visitors to get a sense of the lasting legacy and influence of the monarchy on Hawaii‘s history and culture.

Hawaii State Art Museum: This museum, which focuses on Hawaiian art, can be found in a classically designed and historic building which once housed the YMCA in downtown Honolulu and is only steps away from Iolani Palace. The museum is dedicated to promoting, exploring and celebrating the art and cultural heritage of Hawaii.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor: A relatively recent addition, the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor is host to a multitude of aviation exhibits, with a bulk dedicated to World War II vintage aircraft as well as to the history surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. If you’re down here, you should also visit the USS Missouri Memorial, the historic World War II battleship, which is berthed right next to the museum.

Queen Emma Summer Palace: This would be an ideal place to stop as you make your way to view the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, a very popular attraction on Oahu. The palace was the summer retreat of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV. The palace is home to many original royal antiques and furnishings which have never been removed. One of the noteworthy artifacts is the wooden cradle fashioned out of Hawaiian koa wood of the infant Prince Albert who tragically died here at the age of four.

Lucoral Museum: This is a privately owned museum that features its own collection of pearls, corals, gemstones and fossils from Hawaii as well as from around the world. The museum, located in the heart of Waikiki, is dedicated to teaching about the natural treasures and beauty of the Hawaiian Islands  as well as from the oceans in other parts of the world.

Hawaii Plantation Village: Located in the former sugar plantation town of Waipahu, the Hawaii Plantation Village enables visitors to step back in time and experience plantation life in the mid-1800s. Here, you can see a wide range of outdoor sugar plantation-related exhibits, learn about the importance of the sugar industry in the history of the islands as well as to recount the human saga of the many immigrant groups that can to work in the plantations as a means to find a better life in Hawaii.


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  • Hawaii's Best 2011
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