Bishop Museum Inspires

By Donalyn Dela Cruz
Wednesday - July 14, 2010
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By Donalyn Dela Cruz
Public Affairs Director for Bishop Museum

Nearly a year ago, Bishop Museum reopened its premier gallery, Hawaiian Hall, after a three-year renovation. With the reopening, visitors now have the opportunity to view much more of the museum’s rare collection of Hawaiian artifacts. Bishop Museum cares for more than 1.2 million Hawaiian artifacts, many of which once belonged to Hawaiian royalty.

But there are other museums in the world that also have unique Hawaiian collections, two of which have currently partnered with Bishop Museum for a historic exhibit showcasing three images of the Hawaiian god Ku. This partnership includes the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Mass., and The British Museum.

Now until Oct. 4, visitors can witness the unity of three incredible Ku temple images in Hawaiian Hall. This is significant for the museum, but also for all of Hawaii because it has been more than 160 years since the two Ku have been in the Islands.

The exhibition is called E Ku Ana Ka Paia: Unification, Responsibility and the Ku Images. Derived from the Hawaiian prophecy chant of Kapihe, E Ku Ana Ka Paia literally means The Walls Shall Stand Firm.”

Ku on display

History has the ability to inspire as well as educate. There is no doubt that those who have recently visited Bishop Museum’s Hawaiian Hall have learned about a thriving culture that continues to stand firm.

Yet, it takes more than a one-time visit to see all that Bishop Museum has to offer.

The museum’s role in the community expands far beyond its 24 million catalogued objects. Its library and archives hold 125,000 historical publications and another 1,000,000 items that include photos, films, art and audio recordings. Its science department plays an integral role in identifying and recording invasive species. Bishop Museum also is the lead organization in developing a field station on the north coast of New Guinea for long-term ecological research on global issues and climate change.

Like many nonprofits, Bishop Museum has faced harsh economic realities. It has felt the pinch of a slower tourism market and has made adjustments to save on costs. One such change was closing operations on Tuesdays after being open daily since its establishment in 1898.

As a business of being the caretakers of treasured artifacts, Bishop Museum enforces its mission to study, preserve and tell the stories of the natural and cultural history of Hawaii and the Pacific through its 200 employees.

There will be more changes ahead for this 120-year-old institution to ensure a better museum experience and to continue to inspire anyone at any age.


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