Hawaii, Oahu, Honolulu, Bishop Museum, Hawaiian Hall with sperm whale exhibit.
The largest museum in Hawaii studies and preserves the history of the islands and the Pacific—for those interested in local culture, it’s a must. The Victorian building originally housed family heirlooms from Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I, including her ancestor’s royal feathered cape. Today the Bishop teems with more than 24 million artifacts, documents, and photos about Hawaii and other Polynesian cultures. Other highlights include everyday items, like combs made from coconut-leaf ribs, and extraordinary ones, like the leiomano (a shark-tooth-studded weapon kept hidden until battle). Don’t miss the 55-foot sperm whale skeleton and other natural-history exhibits, along with a planetarium showing how voyagers navigated the Pacific, guided by the stars.
Really Hot: Bishop Museum's Working Volcano
Long a favorite place to start an exploration of Hawaii for akamai (smart) visitors and a place to teach island keiki (children) about where they live, Bishop Museum appeals to locals and travelers alike. With many halls of Hawaiian history, artifacts, paintings and kahili of Hawaiian monarchs, flora and fauna, and an extensive Polynesian collection, the study of the geology of Hawaii with its still-active volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii is a perennial favorite subject. A volcano actually comes to life in the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center in the form of a large working volcano that lets museum guests see the inner workings of a volcano. There is a not-to-miss molten lava demonstration in the Hot Spot Theater. Lava rock is actually heated to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit, poured out for all to see, then cooled. The 20-minute show, in English and Japanese, starts daily at 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Blair Collis, president and CEO of Bishop Museum, invites you to start your visit to Hawaii at Bishop Museum: “It is a must-see for all visitors who want to experience what makes Hawai‘i unique.” There is a great café on premises, free parking, and a fantastic museum store. Expect to spend the day to include the galleries; go on a docent guided tour to really understand the treasure that Hawaii is. Visit website for times, admission fees and tours.