July 8, 2016
Exhibit dives into the history, science, and culture of Papahānaumokuākea
Honolulu, HI – Most think that when the sun sets over Kaua‘i the day is over in the Hawaiian Archipelago. In fact the island chain extends another twelve thousand miles to the northwest. This string of small islands, atolls, and barely submerged reefs are renowned for their biodiversity and revered for their cultural significance. Bishop Museum presents a multifaceted, original exhibit that will unveil the rich legacy behind these islands in Journeys: Heritage of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. From Aug. 13, 2016–Jan. 29, 2017, the Journeys exhibit will allow visitors to marvel at the stark natural beauty, scientific treasures, and cultural significance of our nation’s most extensive marine national monument, Papahānaumokuākea.
Visitors will explore the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands’ natural, cultural, and modern history, and discover its heritage as a marine national monument through a combination of virtual, multimedia experiences, and authentic cultural objects. Guests will be immersed in thriving marine environments aboard a model submarine. A glance out of the porthole will reveal schools of Galapagos sharks and other footage from the islands’ azure waters. Explorers can then take a break from the action for a photo-op with a monk seal at the underwater selfie station. These activities and a variety of other interactives will give visitors access to this remote and highly restricted area of the Pacific.
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will also be brought to life with rarely-displayed cultural objects from Bishop Museum’s collections, such as ancient fishing weights, adzes, and stone bowls. Of note, six stone ki‘i, or carved figures, from Bishop Museum’s Ethnology Collections will be reunited with two ki‘i on loan from the Peabody Essex Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All of these ki‘i originate from Mokumanamana—a Northwestern Hawaiian Island that lies at the interface between the realm of light, where people reside, and the realm of darkness, where ancestral spirits and the gods reside, according to ancient Hawaiian traditions. Visitors can also view items created by modern cultural practitioners using materials from Papahānaumokuākea, and are encouraged to try their hand at experimental archaeology by building a dry-stacked lava rock birdhouse.
Prior to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands’ protected status, the monument endured a storied and often tumultuous history. Visitors will see how the area was exploited for its resources before it was protected as well as learn about the pivotal Battle of Midway of WWII by soaring in the skies above Midway Island in a flight simulator. While the Journeys exhibit peers into the past, it also offers a window into the distant future of the main Hawaiian Islands by explaining how volcanic islands, over millions of years, become coral cap atolls. A large-scale map and other interpretive content will also show how this treasured area relates to the environment of our wider world.
Bishop Museum’s connection with the monument extends beyond historical and scientific research. Former museum president & CEO Dr. Bill Brown served as the science advisor to Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit during President Bill Clinton’s administration. During his term, Brown wrote executive orders issued by President Clinton on coral reef protection and invasive species, recruited and supervised the staff of the Invasive Species Council, then worked to establish three national wildlife refuges with coral reefs and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands reserve. The establishment of the reserve laid the groundwork for its later designation as the United States’ first marine national monument in 2006 under President George W. Bush. Later, it was named Papahānaumokuākea and designated as a mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Journeys exhibit is an extension of Bishop Museum’s legacy to perpetuate the culture and protect the thriving environments of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
“With conversations brewing about expanding the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, this exhibit could not have come at a better time,” said Dr. Richard Pyle, researcher and associate zoologist at Bishop Museum. “I’ve had the privilege of going on multiple expeditions to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the Journeys exhibit will show the public the importance of this cultural and scientific treasure, as well as convey the sense of awe we researchers experience every time we get to go there.”
Bishop Museum is proud to present Journeys: Heritage of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in partnership with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The exhibit is also sponsored by Aqua-Aston Hospitality.
About Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum:
The Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in memory of his wife Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a royal descendant of King Kamehameha I. Bishop Museum is proud to be recognized as the principal museum of the Pacific, housing the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts and natural history specimens. In total, Bishop Museum’s collections consist of more than 25 million items including over 22 million biological specimens and more than two million cultural artifacts derived from a legacy of research spanning more than 125 years. These collections also include more than 115,000 historical publications, one million historical photographs, films, works of art, audio recordings and manuscripts. More than 300,000 people visit the Museum each year, including over 40,000 schoolchildren. For more information, please visit www.bishopmuseum.org, follow @BishopMuseum on Twitter and Instagram, become a fan of Bishop Museum on Facebook, visit Bishop Museum’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/BishopMuseum, or call (808) 847-3511.