Bishop Museum adds two cultural programs

HONOLULU -- The Bishop Museum here is offering two cultural programs in addition to its regular exhibits:

Ho'ike'ike Cultural Program

The Ho'ike'ike Cultural Program features a guided gallery tour; lei making; hula and ukulele lessons, and lunch.

Guests will learn the craft of lei making as well as the significance of the flower necklaces in Hawaiian culture.

Visitors also will be taught a Hawaiian chant and how to hula.

Ukulele lessons are offered as part of the tour on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Lunch is a combination of Japanese and Hawaiian food.

The tour runs Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The price is $49.50 for adults and $35 for children ages 12 and younger.

With transportation from Waikiki, the price of the tour is $65 for adults and $55 for kids.

Reservations are required.

Behind the Scenes Tour

The Behind the Scenes Tour enables visitors to view artifacts restricted from normal public viewing.

The tour, which debuted in 1999, evolved over the past year.

The first tour showcased 500-year-old relics from Hawaiian chiefs and featured different implements of war and agriculture.

The tour's current focus is on stories, history and artifacts of the Hawaiian monarchy period with a concentration on King David Kalakaua, who lived from 1836 to 1891.

The tour is preceded by a storytelling session, called Ola Na Mo'olelo, that is presented by museum cultural consultant Miki'ala Ayau and museum educational specialist Noelani Tachera.

Through chanting, singing and dancing, the two re-create the highlights of Kalakaua's era and the downfall of the Hawaiian kingdom.

Kalakaua means "Day of Battle."

"His life was a battle between modern influences and Hawaiian traditions," Ayau said.

The storytellers describe Kalakaua's worries over diseases brought by missionaries from the outside world; his 10-month trip around the world to meet with other monarchs, and how, when he returned home, he was forced at gunpoint to sign a constitution that limited his power.

The duo tell of Kalakaua's signing of a reciprocity treaty that allowed Hawaii to continue selling sugar to the U.S. as long as it signed over Pearl Harbor.

The storytelling also recounts Kalakaua's death in 1891 and how his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, took over, only to be overthrown five years later, paving the way for the U.S. to cement its control over the islands.

The storytelling is a good warmup for the Behind the Scenes Tour, which takes place in the museum's climate-controlled storage area.

Many of the items viewed on the tour are not displayed in the general museum because it is not climate-controlled.

During the tour, participants are asked to put on white gloves in order to handle some of the artifacts.

Artifacts from the current display include a collection of gourds that were used as either percussion instruments or water holders; a sound box that was a gift from Thomas Edison to King Kalakaua, and Queen Liliuokalani's carriage reins and horse collars.

The tour also features a collection of items from a secret society of Hawaiians that was headed by Kalakaua to preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian culture.

Items on display from the clandestine Hale Naua of Kalakaua gatherings include balls of string used during dating rituals.

Also included are neck pieces made of human hair, with one shaped to resemble a tongue and worn only by royalty.

The tongue was symbolic of speaking, and the wearer possessed absolute authority to speak.

The tour, which costs $15 per person in addition to the $14.95 museum admission fee, runs from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and is limited to 10 people.

Reservations are not required for the tour, but children under age 12 are not admitted. Children are allowed to see the storytelling, however.

For more details, call (808) 847-3511 or visit the museum on the Web at www.bishopmuseum.org.

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