We love museums – any kind of museum, to be truthful. I’m raising some inquisitive, nerdy children, and I will not apologize for it. We spent a Saturday afternoon at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, despite the fact that it was a sunny, gorgeous Hawaiian day. What can I say? We like to learn.
This museum is located in outer Honolulu, right off the King Street exit on H1. Parking is only $5 for the day, which in this area is very reasonable, but public transportation can get you there easily. The museum is divided into four buildings on a large, green campus. We took a few wrong turns in finding the entrance, and it made me wonder how the museum discourages free visitors. I walked all over the campus before actually paying! I found out when we purchased our admission tickets: every person is issued a sticker to wear as a badge. There are many guides, employees, and security personnel roaming the buildings so if you do not have a sticker, you are out. Clever, right? Admission was reasonable, considering the size and number of exhibits. You can view from their website the different rates for adults, seniors, children, military, and kama’aina.
I could write on and on about the things we enjoyed on our visit, but I thought I would share some pictures and hit the highlights for you:
– Take in a planetarium show:
If you have never been in a planetarium, they are fantastic. It can be a little disorienting and claustrophobic, but the shows are always intriguing. At the Bishop museum, you can purchase a show for $2.95 each person. There are shows all day, usually every hour. We attended one about the sky at night, particularly relating to the mapping of the stars and astrological signs. I think that was the first show that Leo has ever sat completely still and quiet for as he and the girls gazed at the sky. The museum has other shows, and it was well worth the money.
– Enter the science center last:
This is especially true if you have children! This is an interactive, glowing, fun zone for all ages, but kids will not want to leave. Explore the underwater tunnel, a glow-in-the-dark hallway with audio information and glowing, interactive sea creatures. Walk inside a volcano and learn about lava, eruptions, and volcanic history in Hawaii while you wait for a simulated eruption. Try on different costumes in the play zone and learn about which insects are prey or predator. I am only touching the surface of what is in this building, but I purposely left that for our last stop so the kids could take their time.
– Take a selfie next to a dinosaur:
This exhibit, part of the “Biomechanics: The Machine Inside” display, is only here until 4 September 2017. However, this was fascinating. It explores DNA, muscles, bone structure, senses, and traits that make a person or animal what it is today. The first thing you see upon entering is a replica of Sue, a T-rex fossil. It is huge and very impressive. There is also a selfie board to show your love for the Bishop Museum, or your can freestyle your selfie with this large-toothed predator.
– Give yourself plenty of time for the Hawaiian and Pacific Halls:
This is just one building – an old, gorgeous building – but I still could not read or see everything in it. Part of this is because I had three hungry children who wanted to leave after an hour. Part of this is because the museum packs in a ton of history, replicas, and activities in this building. The Hawaiian hall is a standing gallery with 3 floors of Hawaiian history, mythology, and culture. The Pacific hall include 2 floors of Oceania history and culture. Also included in this building are special exhibits, Hawaiian monarchy tokens and portraits, and more. You can see how this could take some time to see!
When I entered the ground floor of the Hawaiian Hall, I was floored and immediately declared that I wanted to live there. Everything is lined with wood rails and shelves. Marble flooring and soft lighting accentuate the replicas of important sea creatures, artifacts, and musical instruments. It felt like walking into the library from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, my personal version of heaven. I could have sat there and read every piece of history there, and I plan to cover the areas I missed when we make our next visit.
– Take a small picnic or snacks to enjoy outside:
As I said, the campus is beautiful. Plenty of green grass and native plants and trees only complement the historic buildings. You are not allowed to bring food or drinks into the exhibits, but you can walk back to your car for your food. The kids and I took an afternoon snack under a shady tree, enjoying the peaceful environment and sunny sky. i find that so many places now prohibit outside food and drinks in their facilities, so it is always a welcome treat to be able to bring your own food. There is a cafe and gift shop on site, if you would need sustenance.
As you can see, we greatly enjoyed our time at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. If we could have, I would have spent even more time there and am considering a membership. The employees were nothing but helpful and kind. I learned a great deal about Hawaiian history and culture. We struggled to say the names of gods and deities correctly in Hawaiian, but a guide was gracious enough to assist us. We played and laughed in the science center, and we strolled the grounds in the sunshine. It was a great way to pass an afternoon while also learning more about our new(ish) home. Perhaps you can spend a day here as well!
***For more info, check out the link above. The museum does offer group and field trip rates, as well as event hosting.***