July 23, 2022 – February 19, 2023

Taxonomy: Our Lives Depend On It 

Past Exhibit

July 23, 2022 – February 19, 2023

Museum Hours

Open Daily
9 am – 5 pm
Closed Thanksgiving
& Christmas Day


All Ages


J. M. Long Gallery

Bishop Museum presents an interactive, multimedia exhibition that explores the importance of taxonomy — the identification and naming of plants and animals — and the important role it plays in our everyday lives.

Taxonomy: Our Lives Depend On It features a variety of media including images, video, and interactives to tell our visitors stories of taxonomy and the people who do taxonomic work. Taxonomy will also showcase one of the largest displays of plants and animals representative of Bishop Museum’s natural sciences collection of more than 20 million specimens, much of which is normally not accessible to the public. 

“As humans, we name things to communicate to others what they are. Biologists use taxonomy and its Latin scientific names as a universal tool of communication worldwide. Although many may not have heard of it, the science of taxonomy is essential to conservation, agriculture, medicine and veterinary medicine, and many other aspects of our lives. This exhibition highlights Bishop Museum’s more than 125-year history of discovering and naming more than 10,000 new species, by staff considered the world leaders in their respective sciences.” 

– Richard Pyle, Ph.D.,
Taxonomy co-curator,
Bishop Museum senior curator of Ichthyology and director of XCoRE

In-gallery features include: 

WOW! Wall 

A 30-foot wall filling an entire side of the exhibition space, displaying an incredible array of different plants and animals from Bishop Museum’s natural science collections and their amazing diversity. 

Timeline of Taxonomic History 

Guests will walk through a brief history of taxonomy, from early explorations and the use of crude instruments, to later DNA analysis and even the tricorders from “Star Trek,” showing the improvements scientists have made (and may soon make) to identify new species and explore remote and challenging environments. 

Cultural Connections 

Visitors will explore some of the core similarities between Indigenous naming and Western systems of organizing the universe; learn how specific native plants and animals are named in Hawaiian traditions; and how both older customary names can be revived, and new culturally-based names can be given to plants and animals in Hawaiʻi.



Beetles, Butterflies, Spiders, Centipedes, and more! This August, join us for three behind-the-scenes tours to explore a different facet of the Museum’s vast Entomology collection.

No event found!


Join us in growing and sustaining Bishop Museum’s living curated collection of Native Hawaiian plants. Participate in three hands-on workshops that represent a snapshot of the Museum’s ongoing work in preserving our local ecosystems in Hawai‘i. 

No event found!


In honor of the month of horror, explore the spookiest realms of the fish world in a Halloween-inspired tour curated by Bishop Museum’s Ichthyology staff.

No event found!


This November, join the Invertebrate Zoology staff in the Science Adventure Center to create artistic expressions of invertebrate life

No event found!


This December, join the Malacology staff to learn more about snails!

No event found!


Join us this January for incredible programming opportunities at the museum!

No event found!


Join us this February for incredible programming opportunities at the museum!

No event found!

This exhibition is generously supported by the John Chin Young Foundation.

Top image:
Puget Sound King Crab
Lopholithodes mandtii
© Susan Middleton