Thursday, May 11, 2023

Bishop Museum is Honolulu's treasure trove of Pacific Island wonders


The Bishop Museum's several buildings range from historic to contemporary and house millions of
priceless items. It represents the world's largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts and natural history specimens. Its many collections contribute to global research.



THE BISHOP Museum in Honolulu is a true treasure trove.

You'll go down the rabbit hole of Pacific Island discovery when you visit. Plan to spend a day to truly savor and appreciate its marvelous, eye-popping contents.

SHOWCASING AN extensive collection of Hawaiian objects and royal family heirlooms owned by a princess, the museum includes millions of objects, documents and photographs about Hawai'i and other Pacific island cultures.

Above right, Tapestries, feathers and
 elaborate wall hangings are displayed
artfully throughout the museum. Above,
one of many intriguing sculptures.

The Bishop Museum's extensive nature
related exhibits include these striking
mobiles of a whales, sharks and more.
"The Bishop," as it is known worldwide, was founded in 1889 by Charles R. Bishop, the American husband of Hawaiian Princess Bernice Pauahi, who died in 1884.
Imagine 25 million items -- it's mind boggling.
Each piece tells a story of the Pacific Islands
rich and diverse history and culture.

Because she was the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha, Bishop wanted to honor her legacy as well as celebrating Hawaii's cultural richness.
THE MUSEUM has gained an international reputation for its breadth and excellence. As the state's largest museum, it is the Pacific region's premier natural and cultural history institution. It is recognized worldwide for its cultural collections, research projects, consulting services and public educational programs.
Feathers are part of the culture. Here, Keller
admires a creation made of thousands of
them, carefully plucked so the birds were
not injured, but released to grow more.

Bishop and his wife, Pauahi.
The museum showcases
her extensive collection
acquired in her royal life.

WE SPENT an enlightening afternoon enjoying the exhibits -- from photographs of famous surfers to hands-on drums, to weavings, tapestries, pottery, mobiles, sculpture, murals, and intriguing diagrams.
 In 1961 a planetarium and an observatory were added to emphasize the role of astronomy in the cultural history of Pacific Island peoples.

The Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum contains the
world's largest collection of Polynesian artifacts.
Millions of pieces of historic art and memorabilia are
housed within the museum complex, a world class operation. 

museum as an enduring memorial to his beloved wife. Pauahi was a well known philanthropist and member of Hawaii's ali'i, or royalty.  She inherited many irreplaceable heirlooms from her royal family including her prestigious parents and her cousin Ruth Keʻelikōlani. She died at age 52, living only from 1831to 1884. But she was a shrewd businesswoman. At her death, her estate was the largest private landownership in the Hawaiian Islands, comprising an astonishing nine per cent of Hawaii's total area. The revenues from these lands are used to operate the Kamehameha Schools, established in 1887 according to Pauahi's will. Her marriage to Bishop was one of like minded philanthropists who appreciated and shared their wealth.
WE ADMIRED many of their treasures, including stone and bone implements and containers, gorgeous feather lei and capes and stunning kihili, those distinctive long poles decorated on one end with a cluster of thousands of feather plumes.  These, and many of the other museum items, were used as ceremonial emblems by the native Hawaiian people.
Bishop's mission was to honor both his wife's legacy and celebrate the rich culture of South Pacific. Well done.
As our Hawaiian friends say: hele mai e ao, or "come in and learn."


A spirited cast gives energy and pizzazz to "Xanadu" underway
at San Diego Musical Theatre. Another successful run begins!

BEST ON THE BOARDS:   underway at San Diego Musical Theatre, is a rousing new musical, "Xanadu," based on the 1980s film but much more fun. The theater, at 4650 Mercury St., San Diego, is a dream came true for Erin and Gary Lewis who launched it and so far have produced 350 productions. Xanadu runs through June 4, followed by Tony winning "Urinetown" in late July, "The Addams Family" opening Sept. 29 and "Forever Plaid" for the holidays. "Xanadu" is getting raves for its feel good energy, its energetic roller skate numbers, fabulous singing, snappy choreography and endearing characters with good times guaranteed. Check out upcoming musical theater treats, package deals, group discounts and more at
858 560-5740.

The Museum of Neew Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa offers a visual feast of
 treasures, including art, beautiful user-friendly exhibits and animal studies

UP NEXT: While we're in a museum mood, we visit one of the world's finest. The centerpiece of Wellington is the remarkable Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa which offers a cultural feast and is the focal complex in the city's unusual and popular "free museum" system. Te Papa Museum is one of many no-admission museums in Wellington, and is a much loved, user friendly place often visited by locals, school groups and by thousands of grateful visitors from all over the world. Te Papa means "container of treasures" and the museum lives up to its name. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, the arts, family, nature and more:


  1. All Hawaiian people are proud of this wonderful place.

  2. Museum and Music BuffsMay 12, 2023 at 11:09 AM

    What a fun piece on this wonderful museum, then a nice promo for San Diego Musical Theater which we never miss. So grateful for it and always look for your "Best on the Boards" after the focal piece.

  3. We love the museums of Hawaii-- large and small. Bishop is the best.