BISHOP MUSEUM BRINGS FORGOTTEN CONNECTIONS BACK TO CHINA

Splendor of Hawai‘i and Polynesia Exhibit Makes Debut at Fujian Museum

( Honolulu, HI) Bishop Museum brought an unusual treat to the people of China last week: a part of their forgotten connections with Polynesia.

Last week Bishop Museum’s traveling exhibit, Splendor of Hawai‘i and Polynesia, made its debut at the Fujian Museum in China, bringing a long-forgotten story back to life. The exhibit uses more than 150 artifacts selected from Bishop Museum’s cultural collections to tell the stories of the ancient Polynesians whose remote ancestors were believed to live in China over 5000 years ago.

“Studies in archaeology, historical linguistics and genetics show that in prehistory, the coastal area in southeast China was the ultimate homeland of the Austronesians in the Pacific, including the Polynesians,” said Tianlong Jiao, Chairman of Anthropology at Bishop Museum.

Since establishing a sister-museum relationship in 2004, the Fujian Museum and Bishop Museum have collaborated on a series of archaeological investigations and traveling exhibitions to explore the origins of the Austronesians.

“This exhibition from our sister-museum is very meaningful to us,” said Zheng Guozhen, Director of Fujian Provincial Bureau of Antiquity at the exhibit’s opening ceremony. “It is a rare opportunity for the Fujian people to experience the Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures. For too long people forgot that we were actually closely connected with each other in the past.”

“It is particularly fitting that this special exhibition opens at our sister museum in China, as Fujian is believed by most scholars as part of the ultimate homeland of the Polynesian ancestors. I hope this exhibition will stimulate more thoughts, more questions and more discussions about the ancient connections between China and Polynesia,” said Timothy Johns, President and CEO of Bishop Museum.

The exhibit was organized in Hawai‘i by Cultural Collections staff and flown to China with Kamalu duPreez and Erin Tamashiro of Bishop Museum. Once in China, the exhibit was reassembled at the Fujian Museum for its world debut. Johns, Tamashiro, duPreez, Jiao and Bishop Museum’s Vice President of Cultural Resources Betty Lou Kam, were at the Fujian Museum for the grand opening of the exhibit at the Fujian museum on January 26.

“It is a great honor to have our Museum represented by our priceless collections at a museum of such great stature in a land of such great antiquity,” said Kam.

Splendor of Hawaii and Polynesia will be on display at the Fujian Museum until April 6. It will reopen at Zhejiang Provincial Museum from April 25 until July 25 and then return to Hawai‘i where it will be on display in Bishop Museum’s Long Gallery for the remainder of 2011.

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in memory of his wife Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I. The original collections were comprised mostly of royal family heirlooms. Today, the Museum is recognized as the principal museum of the Pacific, housing the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts and natural history specimens. More than 340,000 people visit the Museum each year, including over 50,000 schoolchildren. For more information, please call 808.847.3511 or visit www.bishopmuseum.org.

Publicity photos of the opening ceremony and exhibit artifacts are available for download: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bishop_museum/sets/72157625969752250

-pau-

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