While it may be sun, surf and sand that
come to mind when planning a visit to Hawaii, Oahu also offers many
museums that cater to a broad range of interests. It doesn't take a
rainy day to make a museum visit a memorable part of an Oahu
itinerary. The following are some of the collections and
institutions worth recommending to Oahu-bound travelers.
" The Bishop Museum: Home to one of the foremost collections of Pacific island
art in the world, with remarkable examples of temple carvings and
featherwork, the Bishop Museum provides a cultural context to a
Renovation of the
main exhibit halls is currently under way, but the halls that
remain open still make it a high recommend. The planetarium
features shows that deal with Hawaii's skies and astronomical links
to Polynesian Hawaii.
The museum is
located just off the H-1 freeway in Kalihi, about 20 minutes by car
from Waikiki. Museum-operated buses are another option. The Bishop
Museum also operates a small museum in the Kalia Tower of the
Hilton Hawaiian Village. Admission fee charged.
" Hawaii Army Museum: This beachfront museum in Waikiki documents Hawaii's
military history in the concrete bunkers of Battery Randolph. No
admission fee is charged, but a contribution is
" Hawaii State Art Museum: Thanks to mandatory funding of public art from state
revenues, the state of Hawaii has built a sophisticated and varied
collection of art that is now on display at a restored building
across Richards Street from Iolani Palace.
opened in the 1920s as the city's YMCA. Admission is free.
" Hawaii Children's Discovery Center: This is a hands-on fun house for kids under age 12.
It is located in Kakaako Waterfront Park, about 15 minutes from
Waikiki. Closed Mondays. Admission is charged. There are no food
outlets, but there is a picnic area adjacent.
" Washington Place: The
private home of Hawaii's last queen, Liliuokalani, until her death
in 1917, Washington Place housed Hawaii's governors until a new
official residence was built.
The mansion is a
short walk from Iolani Palace. There is only one tour daily, so
reservations are a must. Washington Place does not charge an
admission fee, but donations to the Washington Place Foundation are
" Iolani Palace: Completed in 1881 by King
Kalakaua, the restored palace is must-see for anyone with an
interest in Hawaiian history. A visit includes docent-led or
The palace museum
is home to Hawaii's crown jewels and other pieces linked to the
royal past. The museum bookstore carries a selection of Hawaiiana
titles. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission fee
" Judiciary Museum: Housed in Aliiolanihale, which was built in 1877 under King
Kalakaua, the museum building served as the kingdom's legislature
and judiciary. The displays are informative and include the
building's courthouse. No admission fee.
" Chinatown Museum: Located in the heart of Honolulu's Chinatown section, this
small museum tells the story of the immigrants who came and of the
fires that twice destroyed much of this part of the city, which
remains the bustling heart of downtown Honolulu. Admission fee is
" Hawaii Maritime Center/Falls of Clyde:
Adjacent to the Aloha Tower Marketplace, this
museum delves into Hawaii's maritime tradition, starting with the
Polynesians. The museum takes a look at the whaling (1830 to 1870)
and cruise (1900 to 1950) eras.
The Falls of
Clyde, a 19th century sailing vessel, is adjacent and allows
onboard touring of a high-masted sailing ship. Both venues are
operated by the Bishop Museum. Admission is charged.
" Mission Houses Museum: This missionary compound was built between 1820 and 1840 as
a home for the first missionaries to reach Hawaii.
A visit includes
the home and adjacent printing press, where some of the earliest
books in the Hawaiian language were printed for use in the mission
schools. The adjacent bookstore and gift shop carries many titles.
Admission is charged.
" Honolulu Academy of
Arts:Housed in a classic Territorial
Era (1900-1959) building that has been recently expanded, this
museum includes masterpieces by Van Gogh and Gauguin, Chinese
export goods and the James Michener Collection of Japanese Prints,
a small number of which are on display.
The museum also
conducts tours of Shangri-La, the Diamond Head estate of heiress
Doris Duke, with its collection of Islamic art and beautifully
landscaped grounds. Tours are limited to 10 people. The museum has
an excellent gift shop and restaurant. Admission fee
" Queen Emma Summer
Palace: Located in the cool uplands of Nuuanu Valley, away
from the heat of the coastal lowlands, this home, built in the
1840s, was gifted to Emma Rooke. She would later reign as Queen
Emma, wife of King Kamehameha IV.
The palace has
been a museum since it was donated to the Daughters of Hawaii, a
preservation group that maintains and operates it. Admission is
" Hawaii's Plantation Village: Sugar was a mainstay of the island economy for more than a
century, from the 1870s to the 1970s.
This museum, a
recreated plantation village incorporating restored original
structures, is located in suburban Waipahu, about a 35-minute drive
west of Waikiki.
The museum offers
a glimpse into the lives of the Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and
Puerto Rican workers who toiled and lived during the heyday of the
plantation era. Admission is charged.
" The Contemporary Museum: Located at the Campbell Estate in the hills overlooking
Honolulu, the Contemporary Museum is Hawaii at the artistic cutting
edge. As such, it hosts impressive, avant-garde
The museum is a
15-minute drive from Waikiki to hillside Makiki, where the museum
offers sweeping views of both the city and Diamond Head from its
The restaurant is
recommended for lunch. Admission is charged.
" Pacific Aviation Museum: Just opened in December, this museum is home to restored
World War II combat aircraft, a theater, a museum, a restaurant and
The museum is a
great add-on to a visit to the Arizona Memorial. Admission fee is
To contact reporter Allan Seiden, send e-mail to [email protected].