Bishop Museum Closes Hawaiian Hall
Will Re-Open in 2008 After Renovations
In July of 2006, the Bishop Museum in Honolulu closed their
three-floor Hawaiian Hall Gallery in order to begin a
$20 million renovation project. The Hawaiian Hall is expected
to open again in the Spring of 2008.
Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Japan
JULY 2006 ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE BISHOP MUSEUM
Bishop Museum has announced plans for the first major renovation
and restoration of the iconic Hawaiian Hall Complex, which includes
Hawaiian Hall, Polynesian Hall, the Vestibule and Picture Galleries,
and the Kahili Room. Once complete, the Hawaiian Hall Complex will
give Hawaii residents and visitors an opportunity to greater explore
the depth of the Bishop Museum 's collections with multi-sensory
interpretation of the stories of Hawaii.
To prepare for the renovation and restoration project, Bishop Museum
has closed the three-floor Hawaiian Hall gallery and the Picture Gallery,
with other phases of complex remaining open with as little disruption
as possible as the project progresses. The main gallery is expected
to re-open in Spring 2008, with other areas opening as soon as complete.
Ralph Appelbaum Associates of New York and Hawaii-based Mason
Architects and Health Construction Services are responsible for
the overall planning, design, and construction.
Bishop Museum has the largest collection of Hawaii and Pacific area
artifacts in the world; however, many of the most precious items are
unable to be displayed due to Hawaiian Hall's unacceptable
conditions - including natural light and open-air ventilation - that
result from its original 1889 design. The first priority of the
renovation will be to restore Hawaiian Hall and bring it up to
modern conservation and accessibility standards, so that the
Museum's many Hawaiian treasures can be displayed.
"The Hawaiian Hall renovation will allow the Museum to better fulfill
its mission to serve and represent the interests of Native Hawaiians,"
said Bill Brown, president of Bishop Museum . "When the project is
complete, all three floors of Hawaiian Hall will be dedicated to
the stories of Native Hawaiian history and living culture, as told
from the Hawaiian perspective."
The renovation and restoration project aims to modernize Hawaiian
Hall's interpretation, bringing multiple voices and a Native Hawaiian
perspective to the Museum's treasures. Hawaiian Hall will convey the
essential values, beliefs, complexity, and achievements of Hawaiian
culture, and look at Hawaiian history through Hawaiian eyes.
The interpretation of the Hawaiian Hall exhibits will reflect a special
sensitivity to Native Hawaiian culture and values and will demonstrate
a world-class approach to the presentation of cultural materials in
contemporary museums. A flexible display system will enable the Museum
to exhibit more of its fragile and beautiful artifacts in a setting
that emphasizes their beauty, power and mana (spirit) from the place
in which they were created.
First Floor - Kai Akea
Visitors will enter the realm of Kai Akea, and the world of pre-contact
Hawaii on the first floor of Hawaiian Hall. Here visitors learn
about the legends of old, and see how religion permeated the daily
lives of ancient Hawaiians.
Second Floor - Wao Kanaka
The second floor will introduce visitors to the realm of Wao Kanaka
and the importance of the land and nature to Native Hawaiians. Daily
life and cultural traditions are explored and enhanced through
contemporary voices and practices.
Third Floor - Wao Lani
Visitors find a changing and dynamic Hawaii on the third floor,
the realm of Wao Lani. On this level, visitors discover the enduring
resilience of Native Hawaiians, the ali'i (royalty) and their
traditions. They will look past the romance of the islands to the
inspiring stories of those who have held steadfast, and to the
complexity of modern Hawaiian life.
The Picture Gallery will be restored as a window into the nineteenth
century. Pieces from the Museum's extraordinary collection of oil
paintings and rare books from the museum library will be displayed
on a rotating basis.
Artifacts will be displayed in ways that pay tribute to and respect
their inherent power. The development of exhibits and mounting
techniques will reflect traditional uses of artifacts. Some large,
free-standing artifacts, like the heiau, hale and kii, will remain
in positions of importance and be displayed with minimal railing
barriers to maintain a feeling of openness, yet discourage touching.
Other large objects, like the canoes and sperm whale, will remain
in hanging positions.
Infrastructure and Public Amenities
The renovation work will include installing the building's first
elevator, resulting in access to the three exhibition floors to all
Museum visitors for the very first time; renovating public restrooms;
installing an air conditioning system; upgrading electrical systems;
and installation of an interior state-of-the-art security system.
Through generous funding, the Hawaiian Hall project will be the first
part of a two-phase renovation plan, which also includes Picture
Gallery and a new elevator courtyard. The second phase will include
the restoration of Polynesian Hall and the Vestibule Gallery. The
renovation project will cost approximately $20 million. To date,
$10 million has been raised, including $4 million from the Hawaii
state government, $2 million from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA),
$1 million from Princess Abigail Kekaulike Kawananakoa, and grants
from the JM Long and Vera M. Long Foundations, Atherton Family Foundation,
Cooke Foundation, and Victoria S. and Bradley L. Geist Foundation.
Museum Activity During Renovation
During the renovation, the Castle Memorial Building will continue to
display national traveling exhibitions and special museum collection
exhibits; the Science Adventure Center and Planetarium will be open
for tours and ongoing programs; and museum staff will be planning
future exhibition and specialized programs, working on research
projects and education initiatives plus the acquisition of new
collections. Information and updates about the museum's renovation
and restoration work will be posted on its website throughout each
Hawaiian Hall Complex History
The Hawaiian Hall complex was built from 1889 to 1903 in three phases.
Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The
first portion of the Neo-Romanesque museum, known as Museum Hall,
was designed by William F. Smith of San Francisco . The building was
constructed from lava stone (basalt), quarried onsite, in a random
range ashlar pattern. This first of three phases of construction of
what would later be known as the Hawaiian Hall Complex consisted of
a three-story entrance tower with a single-story exhibit room on its
makai (ocean) side (now known as the Kahili room) and a two-story
exhibition space on the mauka (mountain) side. This mauka portion
of the building contained the Hawaiian Vestibule on the first floor
with the Picture Gallery on the second floor. Phase II, Polynesian
Hall, was added to the rear of the original museum in 1894 and Phase
III, Hawaiian Hall, was completed in 1903. Other than the addition of
public restrooms in 1924 and the installation of steel double doors
in 1935, painting and wood refinishing and repair were the only
upgrade tasks that occurred within Hawaiian Hall for nearly 50 years.
Major alterations took place in 1968, when the naturally lit hall
was equipped with electrical lighting.
Renovation Architect and Firms
Ralph Appelbaum Associates is the world-renowned museum planning and
design firm whose credits include the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum,
the Heard Museum and renovations to the American Museum of Natural
Honolulu-based Mason Architects has worked throughout Hawaii and the
Pacific on projects involving all types of residential design, adaptive
reuse of historic structures, restoration, research, and institutional
work. Its portfolio includes renovations of other historic structures
in Hawaii - Iolani Palace, Shangri-La, Washington Place, and the
Queen Emma Summer Palace .
With nearly 400,000 visitors each year, Bishop Museum serves as one
of Hawaii's top destinations, providing hands-on educational experiences
to help residents and visitors appreciate and embrace Hawaii's rich
culture. By combining education, history and culture, the Museum strives
to fulfill its mission set with its founding in 1889, "to study,
preserve and tell the stories of the cultures and natural history
of Hawaii and the Pacific." Located at 1525 Bernice Street, the
Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $14.95 for
adults; $11.95 for youth 4-12 years, plus special rates for kama Ďaina,
seniors and military; children under 4 years and Bishop Museum Members
are free. For information, call 847-3511 or visit
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