Bishop Museum

Bishop Museum information

Location
Oʻahu , USA
Address
1525 Bernice St
Museum
+1 808 847 3511
Planetarium
+1 808 848 4136
More information
www.bishopmuseum.org
Prices
adult/child $20/15
Opening hours
9am-5pm Wed-Mon
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Like Hawaii’s version of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the Bishop Museum showcases a remarkable array of cultural and natural history exhibits. It is often ranked as the finest Polynesian anthropological museum in the world. Founded in 1889 in honor of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a descendant of the Kameha-meha dynasty, it originally housed only Hawaiian and royal artifacts.

The recently renovated main gallery, the Hawaiian Hall , resides inside a dignified three-story Victorian building. Displays covering the cultural history of Hawaii include a pili (grass) thatched house, carved kiʻi akua (temple images), kahili (feathered royal staffs), shark-toothed war clubs and traditional tapa cloth made by pounding the bark of the paper mulberry tree. Don’t miss the feathered cloak once worn by Kamehameha the Great, created entirely of the yellow feathers of the now-extinct mamo – some 80,000 birds were caught and plucked to create this single adornment. Meanwhile, upper-floor exhibits delve further into aliʻi (royal) history, traditional daily life and relationships between Native Hawaiians and the natural world.

The fascinating two-story exhibits inside the adjacent Polynesian Hall cover the myriad cultures of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. You could spend hours gazing at astounding and rare ritual artifacts, from elaborate dance masks and ceremonial costumes to carved canoes. Next door, the Castle Memorial Building displays changing traveling exhibitions.

Across the Great Lawn, the eye-popping, state-of-the-art multisensory Science Adventure Center lets kids walk through an erupting volcano, take a minisubmarine dive and play with three floors of interactive multimedia exhibits. The Bishop Museum is also home to Oʻahu’s only planetarium , which highlights traditional Polynesian methods of wayfaring (navigation), using wave patterns and the position of the stars to travel thousands of miles across the open ocean in traditional outrigger canoes, as well as modern astronomy and the cutting-edge telescope observatories atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Shows usually start at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm daily except Tuesday, and are included in the museum admission price.

A gift shop off the main lobby sells books on the Pacific not easily found elsewhere, as well as some high-quality Hawaiian art, crafts and souvenirs. Check the museum website for special events, including popular ‘Moonlight Mele’ summer concerts, family-friendly Hawaiian cultural festivities and after-dark planetarium shows (buy tickets online or make reservations by calling 848-4168 in advance).

From Waikiki or downtown Honolulu, take bus 2 School St-Middle St or B CityExpress! to the intersection of School St and Kapalama Ave; walk one block makai (seaward) on Kapalama Ave, then turn right onto Bernice St. By car, take eastbound H-1 Fwy exit 20, turn right on Houghtailing St, then take the second left onto Bernice St. Parking is free.