Kauai museum adds hula exhibit to offerings

LIHUE, Hawaii -- The Kauai Museum here is running an exhibit called "Hula is Life" through May 10.

The exhibit tells the story of Hula Halau O Maiki -- the oldest organized hula school in Hawaii.

The exhibit details the life of Auntie Maiki, who taught hula to generations of students.

The Kauai Museum also has a permanent exhibit worth checking out that tells the island's history from its geologic beginnings to the early Hawaiians and to those who came after the arrival of Capt. Cook in 1778.

There are also exhibits on the history of sugar on Hawaii, missionaries and ranchers.

Part of the permanent exhibit is a 20-minute video that details the island's geology.

Guests will learn, for example, that the island was formed from one large shield volcano as opposed to two or three volcanoes that fused together to make one island.

They also will hear that all seven major rivers on Kauai start at one place called Waialeale on a mountain top in the middle of the island.

Visitors will learn that sporting events were among the early Hawaiians' pastimes.

On display, for example, is a collection of disk-shaped rocks used for the sport. The rocks were rolled like a tire between two sticks.

Another interesting artifact on display was a two-handed poi pounder.

Poi, the root of the taro plant and a Hawaiian staple food, had to be pounded with a large rock in preparation for eating.

According to the exhibit, before 1820, women were not allowed to pound poi. They also were not allowed to eat with men.

But after Queen Kaahumanu, one of King Kamehameha II's 21 wives, abolished those rules, the need for the two-handed poi pounder came about.

Using two hands instead of one to crash a heavy rock down on to a hard root made the task easier for women.

Also on display were a variety of bowls made out of wood from the kou tree.

The kou tree was said to be the best wood for making bowls because it added a nice flavor to food than bowls made from other woods.

But in the mid-1800s, an insect introduced in the islands killed most of the kou trees.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum features several other programs.

On Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 85-year-old Auntie Esther demonstrates how to weave hats from lauhala leaves, which come from the hala tree.

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, the museum offers a tour at 10 a.m.

The tour is included in the museum's admission price.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 13 to 17 and $1 for kids under age 13.

On Mondays and Thursdays at 9 a.m. and on Fridays at 1 p.m., the museum features a Hawaiian quilting demonstration.

The Kauai Museum's hours from Mondays to Fridays are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

For additional information, call the Kauai Museum at (808) 245-6931.

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