The State of Hawai‘i’s capital city of Honolulu (which means “sheltered, or protected bay”) has many cultural and historical attractions, the most prominent of which are described below:
Map Here of Downtown
Location: King and Richards Streets / Phone: 808-522-0832 / www.alike.lcc.hawaii.edu/openstudio/iolani. Guided tours offered to the public from 9 to 2:15, Tuesday to Saturday; Gallery 9-4.
cornerstone for ‘
Ali‘i was originally constructed by Mataio Kekūanaō‘a, a high chief and the
Governor of O‘ahu, for his daughter, Princess Victoria Kamāmalu. The house was given to King Kamehameha III
(Kauikeaouli) in 1845 when the king moved his court to
Hale Ali‘i was named ‘Iolani in 1863 at the request of King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa Kamehameha). The name “‘Iolani” was chosen by King Kamehameha V, who wanted a name chosen to honor his deceased brother, the former king, Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho ‘Iolani).
‘Iolani was one of names of Kamehameha IV, and was also a sacred hawk of Hawaiian mythology. ‘Iolani means “Hawk of heaven,” or “Royal hawk.” The flight of the ‘io (Buteo solitarius, Hawaiian hawk) is believed to be a sign of royalty. (See Hawaiian Hawk, Chapter 7.)
[Photograph: ‘Io, Hawaiian hawk]
Hale Ali‘i was demolished in 1876 due to termites. The construction of ‘Iolani Palace began in 1879, and in 1882 ‘Iolani Palace was completed and furnished.
three different architects, and measuring 140 feet (42.7 m) long and 100 feet
(30.5 m) wide, ‘
Many valuable items were taken from ‘
After the overthrow of the
Hawaiian monarchy (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1893), ‘
The Throne Room was used for meetings of the House of Representatives, and the State Dining Room was used as the Senate Chambers. The Minister of Finance used the Blue Room, where heavy safes were installed, while the Minister of Foreign Affairs used the Gold Room, and the Attorney General used Queen Kapi‘olani’s Bedroom. The Secretary of the Territory used the room now known as Queen Lili‘uokalani’s Prison Chamber, which later housed the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawai‘i.
In 1969, the new State Capitol was constructed and the long process of the restoration of ‘Iolani Palace began.
Interior of ‘
At least four years before the United States’ White House installed electricity, the original gas lamps in ‘Iolani Palace were replaced with electric lights. King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua] was very interested in new technology, and once met Thomas Edison. Electric lights were installed at ‘Iolani Palace on July 21, 1886. Five lamps in all were installed, including one at the Palace, one at the gate to the Palace on Richards Street, two on King Street, and one at the Government Building.
Within two years Honolulu’s streetlights, which were formerly gasoline lamps, were also replaced with electric lights. ‘Iolani Palace was also ahead of its time in other ways, including flushing toilets and bidets, hot and cold running water, copper-lined tubs and other amenities.
Beautifully crafted native and Polynesian-introduced woods such as koa (Acacia koa), kou (Cordia subcordata), kamani (Calophyllum inophyllum, Alexandrian laurel), and ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros species) were used throughout the interior along with other fine hardwoods.
[Photograph: Grand Hall entrance to ‘Iolani Palace showing koa staircase]
Formal functions were held on the main floor of ‘Iolani Palace, and the royal family resided on the second floor. An attic helped keep the building cool, and the basement of the palace housed the Palace kitchen. The basement was also where all the silver, wines, food and other materials were stored in order to supply the lavish social events held at the Palace. A dumbwaiter transported the royal meals up to the first and second floors.
The basement also housed the office of the Chamberlain, who managed the many activities occurring at ‘Iolani Palace on a daily basis. The basement had rooms to house more than forty servants, and also a room that held the kāhili, the feather standards that were symbols of Hawaiian royalty.
Many of these kāhili are now on display in the basement of ‘Iolani Palace, along with other precious cultural artifacts. The kitchen is also beautifully restored to authentically represent the era of the monarchy.
Palace to Prison to Capitol
On January 6, 1895, there was a minor (and failed) attempt by a small group of Hawaiians (apparently with no direct participation by Queen Lili‘uokalani), to begin a counter-revolution to restore the queen (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1895, Jan. 6).
Queen Lili‘uokalani denied any involvement, but Martial Law was declared on January 7 and a military commission was appointed to court-martial Queen Lili‘uokalani and others. On January 16, 1895 Queen Lili‘uokalani was imprisoned in ‘Iolani Palace.
On January 24, 1895 the queen signed a formal abdication and called for the recognition of the Republic of Hawai‘i as the lawful government. Queen Lili‘uokalani later claimed that this abdication was invalid due to coercion.
On February 5, Queen Lili‘uokalani was arraigned before the military commission for treason, a charge later changed to misprision of treason (knowing of the attempted counter-revolution but not disclosing it).
On February 27, 1895, Queen Lili‘uokalani was found guilty of misprision of treason and sentenced to a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment with hard labor for five years. This sentence was not carried out, though she remained imprisoned in ‘Iolani Palace for seven months.
Queen Lili‘uokalani was released from ‘Iolani Palace on September 6, 1895, but was then confined to Washington Place until February 6, 1896, and then island-restricted until October 6, 1896. Lili‘uokalani’s freedom was restricted for 21 months in all, from Jan. 16, 1895 until October 6, 1896. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1895, Jan. 6; 1879, Dec. 31.)
The defiling of ‘Iolani Palace after the overthrow of the monarchy was followed by many decades of use the Palace as a capitol building (1893 to 1969), for the Republic, Territory, and State of Hawai‘i, leaving the Palace in disrepair. After extensive renovations, beginning in 1969, ‘Iolani Palace was opened as a museum in 1978.
The non-profit organization Friends of ‘Iolani Palace now runs the museum, offering guided tours of the United States’ only royal palace. Friends of ‘Iolani Palace also continues to tackle the daunting task of retrieving (sometimes from distant collections) the numerous original furnishings and effects that were taken from ‘Iolani Palace after the overthrow of the monarchy.
The various rooms of ‘Iolani Palace each have their own decor and their own history, including the church-like Grand Hall, which spans the width of the palace. Royal portraits line the walls of the Grand Hall, with ten kings and queens of the monarchy on display.
From the Grand Hall guests were escorted into the adjoining reception rooms. A prominent koa wood staircase in the Grand Hall leads to the second floor’s Upper Hall (described below).
The stately Blue Room, which is directly on the left after entering the Palace, was used for informal meetings and small receptions. The room’s blue satin drapes are trimmed with velvet, and on display are matching portraits of Queen Lili‘uokalani and King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua], both painted by William Cogswell.
Renowned portraitist Franz-Xavier Winterhalter created the portrait of King Louis Philippe of France, which is also on display in the Blue Room. The painting was a gift from the French government to King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) in 1848. The Blue Room once held a grand piano that was often played by members of the royal family, many of who were competent musicians.
On January 14, 1893, Queen Lili‘uokalani summoned her Cabinet Ministers to the Blue Room and presented them with a new constitution whose principal aim was to restore the royal prerogatives. This was the initial event that led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.
Adjoining the Blue Room is the State Dining Room, which is adorned with portraits of world leaders from England, France, Germany and Russia. Bohemian crystal and Paris porcelain add to the aura of formality of this room. After the overthrow of the monarchy, the State Dining Room was used as the Senate Chambers by the Territory and then the State of Hawai‘i.
[Photographs: Blue Room; State Dining Room]
Another first floor room is the Throne Room, which contains numerous historic artifacts such as the original thrones of King Kalākaua and Queen Lili‘uokalani.
Gold and maroon colors decorate the Throne Room along with symbols of Hawaiian royalty, such as kāhili (royal feather standards), and a pūlo‘ulo‘u, consisting of a gold sphere atop a 7-foot (2.1-m) spiral, ivory tusk from a narwhal whale (Monodon monoceros).
In ancient Hawai‘i, the ball on top of a traditional pūlo‘ulo‘u was made of kapa (tapa) barkcloth, and the pūlo‘ulo‘u was used to signal the presence of a chief.
[Photograph: Throne Room]
The Throne Room was used for formal receptions, and is also where King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua] and Queen Kapi‘olani threw elaborate and grand balls. The king was also known to dance the polka and Virginia reel, and sometimes waltzed through the night.
On a more somber note, the Throne Room is where Queen Lili‘uokalani was prosecuted by the Republic of Hawai‘i after the 1895 rebellion led by her supporters who were attempting to restore the deposed queen to power (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1895, Jan. 6). The Throne Room was later used by the House of Representatives of the new government.
Second Floor of ‘
A grand koa wood staircase ascends to the second floor’s Upper Hall, which was used for private dining and sometimes for displaying royal possessions, such as kāhili (royal feather standards) and ahu‘ ula (royal feather capes and cloaks).
Rooms on the second floor include the King’s Suite (King Kalākaua’s bedroom), the King’s Library, the Gold Room, and Queen Kapi‘olani’s Bedroom. Also on the second floor is Queen Lili‘uokalani’s Prison Chamber, where she was imprisoned for eight months after the overthrow of the monarchy.
The King’s Library served as King Kalākaua’s office. On display are some of his original books along with a large table and high-backed Elizabethan-style chairs. A telephone mounted on the wall was one of the first in Honolulu.
[Photograph: King’s Library]
After the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893, the King’s Library as well King Kalākaua’s bedroom was used by Sanford Ballard Dole, who was President of Provisional Government (January 17, 1893—July 4, 1894); President of the Republic of Hawai‘i (July 4, 1894—June 14, 1900); and first Governor of Territory of Hawai‘i (June 14, 1900—November 23, 1903) (appointed by President McKinley; Dole’s term as governor ended on November 23, 1903). Dole’s successors also used the quarters.
The Gold Room, also called the Music Room, was used for gatherings of the royal family. After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the Minister of Foreign Affairs used the Gold Room.
Queen Kapi‘olani’s Bedroom, which is on the Waikīkī side of the building, is decorated with red upholstery and curtains, and mahogany furniture. After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the Attorney General used the room.
On January 16, 1895, when Queen Lili‘uokalani was imprisoned in ‘Iolani Palace, she was confined to a sparsely furnished second floor room now referred to as Queen Lili‘uokalani’s Prison Chamber.
The deposed queen was allowed paper and pencils to write, but was not allowed to read newspapers or books. Now on display in the room (under glass) is the queen’s hand-stitched silk quilt. During her imprisonment, the queen stitched into this quilt the Hawaiian flag as well as the names of people who remained loyal to her during the political crisis.
After Queen Lili‘uokalani was freed from her imprisonment in ‘Iolani Palace (her former home), her room was used by the new government as the office for the Secretary of the Territory. Later the room was used as the office of the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawai‘i.
‘Iolani Palace Grounds
The medieval looking ‘Iolani Barracks building opened in 1871 (construction began in 1866). Firing loops are built into the walls of ‘Iolani Barracks and archery parapets are located atop the building.
Designed by Theodore Heuck, a German immigrant, the structure was used by the Kingdom’s army, originally known as the Household Troops and comprised of about 60 soldiers. An inner courtyard area was used for roll call. The army was later called the Household Guard, or Royal Guard, and included the Royal Hawaiian Band.
‘Iolani Barracks now houses The Palace Shop (selling books and gifts), and a small theater where visitors are shown a short film about the history of ‘Iolani Palace. ‘Iolani Barracks is also the place to purchase ‘Iolani Palace tour tickets.
‘Iolani Barracks was originally at an adjacent site, where the State Capitol now stands. Stone by stone, ‘Iolani Barracks was moved in 1965 to its present location, at 364 South King Street on the ‘Iolani Palace grounds, and completely restored. ‘Iolani Barracks was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Another structure on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace is the Coronation Pavilion, also known as Keli‘iponi Hale. The Coronation Pavilion is an octagonal, copper-domed structure with eight tapered columns. The Pavilion was built for the coronation ceremony of King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua] and Queen Kapi‘olani, which took place on February 12, 1883.
The coronation was a gallant ceremony during which King Kalākaua placed upon his own head a jeweled crown, and then placed another slightly smaller crown on Queen Kapi‘olani. These crowns are now on display in the basement of ‘Iolani Palace.
Two weeks of festivities included a grand lū‘au, parades, gun salutes, fireworks and formal receptions. The ceremony also included the unveiling of the statue of King Kamehameha I (see below) in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale across the street from the ‘Iolani Palace. The Coronation Pavilion was also used for King Kalākaua’s 50th birthday jubilee, which took place in November of 1886.
[Photographs: ‘Iolani Barracks; Coronation Pavilion]
The Coronation Pavilion is now used for inaugurations of Governors of the State of Hawai‘i, as well as for concerts by the Royal Hawaiian Band. Originally the Coronation Pavilion was closer to the Palace, near the steps on the King Street side and connected by a bridge to the first floor veranda.
The Pavilion was later moved to its current location a bit farther from ‘Iolani Palace (near the King-Richards Street corner). In the early 1900s a concrete basement was added, and concrete columns and balustrades replaced what had been delicate woodwork. During World War II the Pavilion was used as a bomb shelter.
On the makai-Diamond Head side of ‘Iolani Palace grounds, a wrought iron fence surrounds a grassy mound, which was once the Royal Tomb of King Kamehameha II (Kalaninui ‘Iolani Liholiho) and Queen Kamāmalu [Kamāmalunuiomano], both of who died of measles in London, England in 1824. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1824).
In 1865, with a solemn torchlight procession, their royal remains were moved to Nu‘uanu Valley where the Royal Mausoleum at Mauna‘ala (“Fragrant mountain”[i]) had been completed (see Royal Mausoleum below). The bones of other Hawaiian royalty may still be buried beneath the grassy mound on the Palace grounds.
Between ‘Iolani Barracks and the Coronation Pavilion is a kukui tree (Aleurites moluccana, candlenut tree) planted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on July 26, 1934.
[Photographs: ‘Iolani Barracks; Coronation Pavilion]
An 8-foot (2.4-m) tall, coral block wall once surrounded the ‘Iolani Palace grounds, with wooden gates allowing entry and exit. The Wilcox Rebellion in 1889 (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1889, July 30) resulted in the lowering of the wall to 42 inches (107 cm), and then in 1891 an iron fence was installed atop the wall.
The four main Palace gates are designated for specific purposes: the Likelike Gate was used by royalty; the Hakaleleponi Gate was used by retainers; the Kīna‘u Gate was where tradesmen entered; and the Kauikeaouli Gate was used for state ceremonies.
[Photograph: ‘Iolani Palace]
Location: 417 South King Street, Honolulu / Phone: 808-539-4999 / Website: Jhchawaii.org
Open free to general public for self-guided tours; Mon.-Fri.,
[Photograph: Ali‘iōlani Hale]
King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa Kamehameha) laid the cornerstone for Ali‘iōlani Hale on February 19, 1872, and the building was completed in 1874. Ali‘iōlani Hale has housed Hawai‘i’s Supreme Court since the days of the monarchy. The building has also housed the Legislature.
Before Ali‘iōlani Hale could be constructed, the O‘ahu Charity School had to be removed from the site. The school had been established in 1831 to provide education to children born to Hawaiian mothers and foreign fathers. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1831.)
Hawai‘i’s Supreme Court met in private houses in Honolulu until 1852, when the Honolulu Courthouse was built (using coral blocks) on Queen Street near the old Honolulu Fort.
A year later a second story was added to the Honolulu Courthouse. At the time, the Honolulu Courthouse was one of the largest buildings in Honolulu, and was also the site of many social events including banquets, musical performances, church services and official ceremonies. Hawai‘i’s Legislature also met in the Honolulu Courthouse.
Following the election of King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua] in 1874 (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1874, Feb. 12), the Honolulu Courthouse was extensively damaged in a riot by supporters of Queen Emma [Emma Na‘ea Rooke; Kalanikaumakeamano; Kaleleonālani], who had asserted a claim to the throne but lost the election.
Ali‘iōlani Hale became the new seat of the Hawaiian government, and the old Honolulu Courthouse became the main office for Amfac (American Factors Ltd., a “Big Five” company). Though Ali‘iōlani Hale was never used as a royal palace, that was the original purpose of the building.
Ali‘iōlani was one of the names of King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa Kamehameha), and is thought to be a contraction of Ali‘i-iō-lani, which means “Chief unto heavens” referring to the heavenly nature of Hawaiian royalty.
One interpretation of the building name, Ali‘iōlani Hale, is “House of Heavenly Kings.” King Kamehameha V planned and initiated the construction of the building, which was designed by Australian architect Thomas Rowe and built with concrete blocks. It was the first major Western-style building constructed by the Hawaiian monarchy, and is notable for its distinctive clock tower.
On July 30, 1889, Robert W. Wilcox (who was part Hawaiian) led about 150 armed insurgents in a revolt against King Kalākaua. At 6 a.m. the men marched to Ali‘iōlani Hale and took over the building as well as the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace.
The rebels opposed reform measures instituted in 1887, and wanted the king to proclaim a new constitution. King Kalākaua refused and shots are exchanged between Wilcox’s men and government forces, who placed sharpshooters in the tower of Kawaiaha‘o Church and surrounding buildings. Bombs made with dynamite were thrown into the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace, scattering the rebels. Seven insurgents were killed and 12 more wounded.
From 1874 until 1893, Ali‘iōlani Hale housed the Legislature of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. Sanford Ballard Dole stood on the steps of Ali‘iōlani Hale in January of 1893 and announced that a Provisional Government had been formed after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1893, Jan.).
The Provisional Government renamed Ali‘iōlani Hale “The Court House.” The House of Representatives and the House of Nobles met at Ali‘iōlani Hale until 1896, when they moved to ‘Iolani Palace (renamed “The Executive Building”).
In 1911, Ali‘iōlani Hale underwent reconstruction. The building was in disrepair due to termite damage, and was set on fire so only the exterior walls remained. Architects Ripley and Reynolds designed the new floor plan, which still exists today.
The new design included a rotunda and double staircase, along with steel beams to reinforce the structure. A new wing was completed in 1944, and a second story was added to the new wing in 1949.
The interior of the building was completely refurbished in 1965, and in 1972, Ali‘iōlani Hale was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A new series of renovations and restoration began in 1978.
Today Ali‘iōlani Hale includes the King Kamehameha V—Judiciary History Center of Hawai‘i, founded in 1989. The Judiciary History Center provides educational exhibits, and includes the Center Theater, which presents two multi-media shows, Law of the Land, and Kānāwai, that discuss how today’s law evolved in the Hawaiian Islands.
The Monarchy Courts Gallery provides information about Hawai‘i’s judicial processes in the 19th century (and earlier), and the 1913 Court Room displays a complete courtroom from that era.
The Temporary Exhibit Room features educational exhibits such as Hawai‘i Under Martial Law: 1941-1944, with artifacts and displays that give the visitor a unique understanding of the topics. In front of Ali‘iōlani Hale is a statue of King Kamehameha I (see below).
Statue of King Kamehameha I
Location: 417 South King Street—in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale.
‘Oni kalalea ke ku a ka lā‘au loa.
A tall tree stands above the others.
Said of a person of outstanding achievements.
[Photograph: King Kamehameha I with Ali‘iōlani Hale in background]
Now an O‘ahu landmark, the statue of King Kamehameha I was unveiled in 1883 in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale, the judiciary building opposite ‘Iolani Palace. The King Kamehameha I statue was unveiled as part of King Kalākaua’s coronation ceremony at ‘Iolani Palace.
The former king, also known as Kamehameha the Great, remains the most renowned and revered warrior and ruler of the Hawaiian Islands. King Kamehameha was responsible for uniting the Hawaiian Islands under one rule and establishing the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, which lasted until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.
A royal proclamation in 1872 began the recognition of what was then known as Commemoration Day but is now known as King Kamehameha Day, which is celebrated every June 11. On this date the King Kamehameha I statue is draped with many different types of lei, some more than 26 feet (8 m) long.
The statue of King Kamehameha I in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale is a replica of the original 9-ton (8-mton) statue cast by American sculptor Thomas Gould in Italy in 1883 (based on an early engraving). That statue was lost in transport to the Hawaiian Islands, but later found in the Falkland Islands soon after the duplicate statue arrived in Honolulu.
The original statue is now on Hawai‘i Island where it stands in front of the North Kohala Civic Center in Kapa‘au, near to where the future ruler of the Hawaiian Kingdom was born. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1753.)
The King Kamehameha I statue is about 8½ feet (2.6 m) tall, showing the warrior king holding an ihe (spear), and wearing a mahiole (feather-crested helmet). He is also wearing an ‘ahu ‘ula (royal feather cloak) a malo (loin cloth), and kāma‘a‘ie (braided sandals). The statue is said to represent King Kamehameha I at the age of about 45.
Washington Place—The Governor’s Residence
Location: 20 South Beretania Street / Phone: 808-586-0157
Open to the public on special occasions / www.firstlady.state.hi.us/washingtonplace.htm.
[Photograph: Washington Place]
Washington Place is a two-story home built in the Colonial Greek Revival style by sea captain and merchant John Dominis, the husband of Mary Dominis and the father-in-law of Queen Lili‘uokalani [Lydia Kamaka‘eha Pākī-Dominis Lili‘uokalani]. The home was completed in 1847 after five years of construction.
John Dominis was a wealthy New England trader. In 1846, he sailed for China where he intended to purchase elegant furnishing for Washington Place. Unfortunately he never returned, apparently lost at sea.
The residence was named Washington Place by King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli), who was impressed by the stories he had heard about George Washington from the American ambassador to the Hawaiian Islands, who rented a room in the home from Mrs. Dominis. The widow Dominis was often seen gardening on the grounds.
The son of Mr. and Mrs. Dominis, John Owen Dominis, married Princess Lili‘uokalani in 1862, and they inherited Washington Place. Queen Lili‘uokalani lived in Washington Place for 55 years, including when she was heir to the throne, as well as after she was deposed.
Queen Lili‘uokalani was confined to Washington Place after she was released from her imprisonment in ‘Iolani Palace on September 6, 1895. She remained confined to Washington Place until February 6, 1896, and was then island-restricted until October 6, 1896. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1895, Jan. 6.)
The queen lived at Washington Place until she died in the home’s downstairs bedroom in 1917.
In 1921, due to the political efforts of Prince Kūhiō [Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi], the Territory of Hawai’i purchased the stately Washington Place so it could be used as a governor’s mansion. Twelve different governors of the State of Hawai‘i, and their families, have lived in Washington Place since 1922 (the last was the Cayetano family).
Renovations to Washington Place took place in 1922, 1929, and 1953, and in 1973 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic home still contains many of Queen Lili‘uokalani’s prized possessions, including fine furniture and Ni‘ihau shell lei.
Also on display are musical instruments belonging to the queen, including a grand piano made of koa wood. The sidewalk to the left of Washington Place displays a plaque with the words Aloha ‘Oe, the name of a well-loved song written by Queen Lili‘uokalani.
Private fundraising efforts led by the Washington Place Foundation raised more than $1 million to build a new governor’s residence. The 5,000-square-foot (465-sq-m) structure was built on an acre of land directly behind Washington Place, where the service quarters were formerly located.
Washington Place is now a Museum with historical exhibits primarily dedicated to telling the story of Queen Lili‘uokalani. The museum, known as a historic interpretive center, includes displays of the Queen’s personal effects as well as important personal papers and historical documents. Washington Place also continues to be used as a public reception area.
Washington Place was named a National Historic Landmark in 2007.
Bust of Queen Emma
Location: Adjacent to Washington Place, in front of St. Andrew’s Priory School for Girls.
Queen Emma [Emma Na‘ea Rooke; Kalanikaumakeamano; Kaleleonālani] (1836-1885) was the great-granddaughter of the brother of King Kamehameha I and queen as wife of King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho ‘Iolani), who she married in 1856.
Also given the name Kalanikaumakeamano, Emma Na‘ea Rooke was the daughter of Fanny Keku‘iapoiwa Kekelaokalani Young and George Na‘ea. She was adopted by her maternal aunt, Grace Kamaikui Young Rooke and Grace’s husband, Dr. Thomas Charles Byde Rooke.
Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV gave birth to Prince Albert [Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Leiopapa o Kamehameha] (1858—1862), who died at age four. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1836 for Biographical Sketch of Queen Emma.)
Location: 415 South Beretania Street (at Richards Street / Phone: 808-586-0178
Public tours by appointment. Open Mon.-Fri., 7:45-4:30.
[Photograph: State Capitol]
The State Capitol is supported by tall columns and has an open central court area and volcano-shaped Legislative chambers. The whole complex is encircled by large reflecting pools that are symbolic of the ocean surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. The sloped walls of the Legislative chambers are symbolic of volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands.
A major renovation of the State Capitol was completed in 1997. The public may walk through the open-air rotunda area with a view into the Legislative chambers.
In front of the State Capitol is a statue of Father Damien (see below), as well as a replica of the Liberty Bell, which was presented to the Hawaiian government by the United States Treasury Department on July 4, 1950. Just across the street is an eternal flame that burns as part of a palm-lined Memorial to the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces.
Statue of Queen Lili‘uokalani
Location: South Beretania Street side of the State Capitol, facing Washington Place.
Motto of Lili‘uokalani.
[Photograph: Statue of Queen Lili‘uokalani]
Between ‘Iolani Palace and the State Capitol is a bronze statue of Queen Lili‘uokalani [Lydia Kamaka‘eha Pākī-Dominis Lili‘uokalani], the last queen of the Hawaiian Islands.
Marianna Pineda sculpted the statue in 1982. The statue faces Queen Lili‘uokalani’s former home, Washington Place.
Queen Lili‘uokalani’s reign lasted from January 29, 1891 to January 17, 1893, when the monarchy was overthrown and a Provisional Government was declared (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1893, Jan. 14).
Queen Lili‘uokalani spent the rest of her life working toward the good of the Hawaiian people. She made numerous trips to Washington D.C. to appeal for a settlement of the disputed crown lands and fair treatment for “her people,” the native Hawaiians.
The statue of the queen, who was the last monarch of the Hawaiian Islands, shows her holding the Kumulipo (Hawaiian creation chant) and Aloha ‘Oe, a favorite song she wrote.
The statue also holds the constitution that Queen Lili‘uokalani wrote in 1893, which resulted in the events that led to the overthrow of the monarchy.
Statue of Father Damien
Location: In front of the State Capitol Building, facing Beretania Street.
[Photograph: Statue of Father Damien]
Father Damien is renowned for ministering to victims of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) at the Moloka‘i colony. Sculpted by Marisol Escobar of Venezuela in 1969, the statue of Father Damien in front of the State Capitol shows him as he appeared after being ravaged by the disease.
The statue of Father Damien, known as the “Martyr of Moloka‘i” stands as a reminder of selflessness and good will toward others. A servant to those in need, Father Damien was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 4, 1995 in Brussels, Belgium.
(For more information about Father Damien, see Damien Museum (below); Moloka‘i section; and Chapter 11, Chapter 11, Timeline: 1865; 1873; 1889; 1969; 1995.)
Bishop Street is the hub of banking and other major businesses in the Hawaiian Islands. This is particularly significant given that Honolulu is also considered the financial center of the Pacific.
Bishop Street is named after Charles Reed Bishop (1822-1915), a prominent banker and public official, and the husband of Princess Pauahi [Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop] (1831—1884), a Hawaiian princess and the granddaughter of King Kamehameha I.
In 1858, Charles Reed Bishop founded the firm Aldrich & Bishop, later called Bank of Bishop & Co. Ltd., and today known as the First Hawaiian Bank. He also founded the Bishop Museum in 1889 in honor of his wife, Princess Pauahi, whose will endowed Kamehameha Schools to educate children of Hawaiian blood. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1887; 1894.)
Today the Bishop Estate, officially renamed Kamehameha Schools, continues to operate Kamehameha Schools, including the 600-acre (243-ha) Kapālama Heights campus in Honolulu as well as smaller campuses on Maui and Hawai‘i Island. The Estate has vast land holdings and investments with an endowment worth an estimated $7.66 billion during the 2005—2006 fiscal year, with $897 million in revenue in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006.
In that same fiscal year, $221 million was spent by the trust to educate children of native Hawaiian ancestry, with a total of 6,715 students enrolled at its various campuses including the Kapālama Heights campus, preschools, and schools on the outer Islands.
The trust also supports 14 charter schools as well as community outreach programs, and these schools and programs serve another 22,000 children. (See Kamehameha Schools and Bishop Museum; and The Bishop Estate Scandal, Chapter 12.)
Mission Houses Museum—Nā Hale Hō‘ike‘ike O Nā Mikanele
Location: 553 S. King Street, Honolulu (across from Kawaiaha‘o Church / Phone: 808-531-0481
Open 9 to 4, Tues.—Sat. / www.lava.net/ormhm/main.htm
[Photograph: Mission Houses Museum]
Now known as Nā Hale Hō‘ike‘ike O Nā Mikanele (“Exhibition House of the Missionaries”), the Mission Houses Museum includes the home of the first missionaries as well as an early printing press brought by the missionaries to help spread their Christian message in the Hawaiian language.
The Sandwich Islands Mission was established in 1820 by American Protestant missionaries who arrived in the Hawaiian Islands aboard the brig Thaddeus with the First Company of American missionaries (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1820, Mar. 31). By the 1840s at least 17 mission stations were found throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
The original missionary buildings in Honolulu, known as Missionary Row, were built for the missionaries by order of the King Kamehameha II (Kalaninui ‘Iolani Liholiho). The original Hale Pule (Christian Meeting House) was built in 1821 where Kawaiaha‘o Church now sits, just across the street from the Mission Houses Museum.
The Mission Houses Museum is a Registered National Historic Landmark. The three buildings still standing from the original Sandwich Islands Mission headquarters are: the Frame House (Hale Lā‘au), the Chamberlain House (Hale Kamalani), and the Printing Office (Hale Pa‘i). Across the street is a historic adobe schoolhouse that is now a Hawaiian Immersion School.
Newer buildings on the Mission Houses Museum site include the Museum Shop, which offers books and crafts for sale, as well as the Tea Parlor. The Mission Houses Museum also sponsors educational classes, workshops, and instruction in researching the materials of the Hawaiian Historical Society and the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society Library.
The Frame House—Hale Lā‘au
Also known as Hale Lā‘au (Lā‘au means “Wood”), the Frame House was built in 1821. The two-story prefabricated structure was brought around Cape Horn by the missionaries.
The Frame House served as a residence for different missionary families, including Hiram Bingham (1789—1869), Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803—1873), and Elisha Loomis (1799—1836) (the printer), as well as boarders and visitors. In 1841 a coral block structure was added.
The Frame House is the oldest wood frame house in the Hawaiian Islands, and is now restored to reflect its original architecture and decor, including furnishings representing its appearance more than 180 years ago.
Chamberlain House—Hale Kamalani
Constructed in 1831, the Chamberlain House is built of coral blocks and was the home of the Mission’s business agent, Levi Chamberlain (1792-1849), who had arrived in the Hawaiian Islands as a lay missionary in 1823. The Chamberlain House was also was used to store the considerable amount of supplies of the mission.
Levi Chamberlain later helped to found O‘ahu’s Punahou School for missionary children and chiefs’ children, which was established in 1841 by Hiram Bingham (1789—1869). (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1841.)
The school was originally known as Ka-puna-hou (“The new spring”) referring to an ancient legend. In 1843, the school was designated Punahou School and Oahu [O‘ahu] College.
The Printing Office—Hale Pa‘i
Also known as Hale Pa‘i (Pa‘i means “To print”), the Printing Office was the home of the Mission Press, and is also known as the birthplace of the written Hawaiian language. The missionary’s Ramage printing press was originally installed in the nearby grass thatched Christian Meeting House (Hale Pule) until the coral stone Printing Office (Hale Pa‘i) was built in 1823.
Utilizing the lead-type press and native Hawaiian assistants (nā kānaka pa‘i) such as John Papa ‘Ī‘ī as language teachers and translators, the Printing Office produced many books, broadsides, hīmeni (hymns), newspapers, rules, primers, Bible translations, and other items published in the Hawaiian language. The Press was the first to print the Bible in the Hawaiian language.
The most prominent of the early missionary printers included Elisha Loomis, Stephen Shepard, Edmund Rogers, Lemuel Fuller, and Edwin Oscar Hall.
[Photograph: Hale Pa‘i (The Printing Office)]
Location: Corner of South King and Punchbowl Streets / Phone: 808-522-1333
[Photograph: Kawaiaha‘o Church]
The historic and still functioning Kawaiaha‘o Church is O‘ahu’s oldest church and largest church. The original church on the site was built in 1821. Known as the Christian Meeting House, or Hale Pule, (pule means “church”).
The structure was framed and thatched by Hawaiians, and then the missionaries installed imported windows, doors, a pulpit, and a bell. The grass-thatched church was built to hold 300 people, and was dedicated in 1821 (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1821, Sep. 15).
On January 7, 1822 the first printing in the North Pacific region was done in this 54-foot (16-m) by 22-foot (6.7-m) building. This was the beginning of the Mission Press, which eventually printed millions of pages, many in the Hawaiian language. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1822, Jan. 7.)
In 1837, construction began on a large, new church, following plans drawn by missionary Reverend Hiram Bingham (1789—1869). More than 1,000 people worked on the construction of Kawaiaha‘o Church, using blunt axes to cut coral reef from beneath 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 m) of water.
Approximately 14,000 coral blocks were cut from the reef for the church. Many of the blocks weighed more than 1 ton (.8 mton). Logs for the church were brought from Ko‘olau Loa in northern O‘ahu to Kāne‘ohe Bay by canoe, and then hauled over the mountain.
Built in the New England style with Gothic influences, the structure was originally known as Stone Church, and was dedicated on July 21, 1842 (then named Kawaiaha‘o Church in 1862). The church’s clock tower was a gift of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli). The clock was built in Boston and continues to keep accurate time.
Kawaiaha‘o Church was later the site of many important historic events, including an 1843 service for the restoration of the monarchy. This took place after King Kamehameha III had been forced into a formal “provisional cession” of the Hawaiian Islands to Britain on February 10, 1843, by Lord George Paulet of Britain, who had arrived on the frigate Carysfort and demanded the cession under the threat of military force.
King Kamehameha III acquiesced and the British flag was raised in Honolulu. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1843, Feb. 10.)
On July 31, 1843, the provisional cession of the Hawaiian Islands to Britain was rescinded by Admiral Richard Thomas (1777-1851) of Britain, who had arrived in the Hawaiian Islands on July 26, 1843 on the H.M.S. flagship Dublin. The Islands were restored to Hawaiians and King Kamehameha III, and the British flag was lowered and the Hawaiian flag was raised.
Later that day, King Kamehameha III gave a speech at a Kawaiaha‘o Church service, and is said to have spoken the words which later became Hawai‘i’s official state motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina o ka pono” (“The life of the land is perpetuated [preserved] in righteousness”). The date of July 31 was later proclaimed Restoration Day.
Kawaiaha‘o Church was also the site of the 1854 coronation of King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho ‘Iolani) as well as his wedding to Emma in 1856. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1821, Sep.15; 1843, July 31; 1872, June 11.) In 1885 a bigger bell tower was installed at the church, and electricity was installed in 1895. A complete reconstruction of all but the coral took place in 1925 due to extreme termite damage.
Today Kawaiaha‘o Church still reserves pews for descendants of the Hawaiian royalty that once worshipped there. These velvet-lined pews at the rear of the church are marked with kāhili, the traditional feather standards that are symbols of Hawaiian royalty.
Portraits of Hawaiian royalty and important figures associated with the church line the walls along the upper balconies of the church. The rear upper balcony is dominated by the church’s spectacular pipe organ.
To the left of the front door of the church, near the original cornerstone, is a centennial memorial plaque honoring Reverend Hiram Bingham (1789—1869), one of the founders and the architect of Kawaiaha‘o Church. Bingham preached his first sermon in the Hawaiian Islands on April 25, 1820. The cornerstone of the church was laid on June 8, 1839.
The 10:30 a.m. Sunday service at Kawaiaha‘o Church is said in Hawaiian as well as English, and for a small offering visitors are welcomed to a breakfast following the service. Across the street from Kawaiaha‘o Church is the Mission Houses Museum (see above), home to the first missionaries to come to the Hawaiian Islands.
Located just inside the main entrance gate to Kawaiaha‘o Church is the Tomb of King Lunalilo (see below). (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1821, Sep. 15; 1837; 1843, July 31; 1872, June 11; and Mission Houses, Chapter 12.)
Tomb of King Lunalilo
Location: On the grounds of Kawaiaha‘o Church—South King and Punchbowl Streets.
[Photograph: Tomb of King Lunalilo]
The remains of King Lunalilo (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1835, Jan. 31) are housed in a substantial memorial, known as the Tomb of King Lunalilo, which is just inside the main entrance gate to Kawaiaha‘o Church.
Born in 1835, King Lunalilo succeeded King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa Kamehameha) on January 8, 1873, and then reigned until he died on February 3, 1874. Many of early missionaries in the Hawaiian Islands are buried in a cemetery behind Kawaiaha‘o Church.
Honolulu Hale—City Hall
Location: South King and Punchbowl Streets.
[Photograph: Honolulu Hale]
Construction on Honolulu Hale began in 1927, and the building opened in 1929. Honolulu Hale is comprised of pillars and arches, decorative balconies, ceiling frescoes, and a tiled roof.
The building was modeled after Florence, Italy’s Bargello Palace, which was built in the 13th century. Much of the building’s Italianate work was created by Italian sculptor Mario Valdastri.
Honolulu Hale was designed by architects Charles William Dickey (1871—1942), a famous architect of the time, along with Hart Wood (1880—1957) and others. Inside the front door is a bell from the World War II ship U.S.S. Honolulu, with a commemorative plaque that states, “Launched August 26, 1937. Commissioned June 15, 1938.”
The spacious lobby of Honolulu Hale is also the site of art exhibits and other events. The center of the building is an open-air courtyard where musical performances and other events are held.
A grand double stairway at the rear of the courtyard leads a wraparound mezzanine. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
In front of Honolulu Hale is a small memorial burning an eternal flame in honor of the victims of the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The plaque is inscribed with the following words:
“Let this eternal flame unite our country in memory of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and honor the brave men and women who put themselves in Harm’s Way to save others. The love and spirit of our grateful nation and the hearts and prayers of our people will always be with them. Dedicated on November 11, 2001 by the people of the City and County of Honolulu.”
Hawai‘i State Library
Location: 478 South King Street / Phone: 808-586-3500 / Reference Services Phone: 586-3621; 1-800-390-3611.
[Photograph: Hawai‘i State Library]
The central branch of Hawai‘i’s statewide library system (just to the west of Honolulu Hale) is housed in a restored historic building designed by architect Henry D. Whitfield, brother-in-law of philanthropist and renowned American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, whose bust greets visitors entering the library.
The building’s style is Classical Revival. The main building is four stories and rectangular in shape, with a six-story tower at the rear.
The original “Reading Room” opened in 1879, and only men were allowed to check out books from the original collection of 5,000 volumes. This was sponsored by the Hawai‘i Workingmen’s Library Association, who were trying to keep rowdy seamen out of trouble.
After the Hawaiian Islands were annexed to the United States, industrialist Andrew Carnegie donated $100,000 toward the construction of a library, which began in 1911 o the corner of King and Punchbowl Streets on the former site of Pohukaina School, which was relocated to Kaka‘ako.
Particularly notable is the library’s entrance, consisting of 20-foot (20.1 m) high “Tuscan” columns atop a six-step riser, and 18-foot (5.5 m) arches.
Two wings were designed by Charles William Dickey (1871—1942) to expand the library, and these additions were completed in 1930, creating the open-air center courtyard.
Hawai‘i’s State Library traces its roots back to the days of the monarchy, beginning with the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association, formed in 1879.
Initial collections and financial contributions came from Princess Pauahi [Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop], Queen Emma [Emma Na‘ea Rooke; Kalanikaumakeamano; Kaleleonālani], Queen Kapi‘olani, and King Kalākaua [David La‘amea Kalākaua].
The Association donated 20,000 books and other resources to form the Library of Hawai‘i in 1909, which also benefited from grants provided by Hawai‘i’s Legislature and from Andrew Carnegie (who donated $100,000).
Today the Hawai‘i State Library is a wonderful resource for the community and beyond. The first floor includes the Young Adults Section, containing materials suitable for teenagers, and an exemplary children’s section that fills two large rooms. It includes the Mural Room, which is wonderfully decorated with Juliette May Fraser artwork depicting ancient Hawaiian legends.
Also on the first floor is the Information Desk, and the Hawai‘i & Pacific section, with a wide variety of books about the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. A lovely palm-edged center courtyard with three large native fan palms (loulu) in the middle provides a great place to relax and read a book.
The second floor of the library is an official Federal Depository Library, containing various federal documents. The second floor also serves as the Hawaiian Islands’ only Patent and Trademark Depository Library, with CD-ROMs that may be used to conduct patent and trademark searches.
A Business, Science, & Technology section is also found on the Library’s second floor, along with the Social Science & Philosophy section, the Language, Literature & History section, the Art, Music & Recreation section, and an Audiovisual section.
The basement of the Hawai‘i State Library houses a Serials section with many different newspapers and magazines, as well as microfilm and computerized materials (including indexes), and periodicals in European and Asian languages.
Location: ‘Iolani Palace Grounds, behind the Territorial Archives Building (Old Archives Building—Kana‘ina Building) / Phone: 808-586-0329.
[Photograph: Hawai‘i State Archives—Kekāuluohi Building]
Next door to the Hawai‘i State Library, on the ‘Iolani Palace grounds, is the Hawai‘i State Archives. The building preserves a historic collection of vintage photos (some on display) along with a multitude of government documents.
The new Hawai‘i State Archives was constructed in 1953 on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace behind the Old Archives Building (Kana‘ina Building), which was built in 1906 (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1906, Aug. 23.)
The Hawai‘i State Archives allows public access to important historical documents of Hawai‘i’s past, including historical photographs and documents, private papers, records, manuscripts, maps, books, and items from various collections, including the Captain Cook Memorial Collection.
The Archives also contains approximately 100,000 photographs, 1,800 maps, and 9,000 books, many of which contain past government publications. Many papers associated with the Hawaiian Kingdom (before 1893), the Republic of Hawai‘i (1893-1900), the Territorial Government (1900-1959), and the government of the State of Hawai‘i (1959-present) are found in the Archives.
The records span all aspects of the government, including the Executive Branch, Legislature, and Judiciary. The Governors’ Records span from 1900 to the present and include press releases, speeches, and personal papers.
Catalogs and indexes in the Reference Room include the Computerized Library Catalog, which makes it easy to locate information and photos.
In 1959, when officials decide that State of Hawai‘i buildings should have Hawaiian names, the new Hawai‘i State Archives building was renamed Kekāuluohi Building after King Lunalilo’s mother, Kekāuluohi (Miriam ‘Auhea, 1794-1845), who was the mother of King Lunalilo and also Kuhina Nui (Premier) of the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1839 to 1845 during the reign of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli). (See Hawai‘i State Archives—Kekāuluohi Building in O‘ahu section, Chapter 2.)
The building was designed by architect
Oliver Green Traphagen in the Renaissance Revival style and constructed at
The Archives contents (now in the newer Hawai‘i State Archives) includes historical photographs and documents, private papers, records, manuscripts, photographs, maps, books, and items from various collections, including the Captain Cook Memorial Collection, papers associated with the Hawaiian Kingdom (before 1893), the Republic of Hawai‘i (1893-1900), the Territorial Government (1900-1959), and the government of the State of Hawai‘i (1959-present).
Virtually fireproof, the
Additions to the building were constructed in 1929, including another vault area, a basement in the back, and a bay added to the front left side of the building. In 1949, a small addition was made to the rear of the right side wing of the building.
In 1959, when officials decide that State of
In 1953, the new Hawai‘i State Archives Building (see 1953) was completed, and the old Archives Building housed the State Attorney General’s office, and then later served other functions including housing the State of Hawai‘i Identification Office and the Office of Children and Youth.
In 1987, the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace restored the original interior colors and design of the Old Archives Building, which still retains its domed, stained-glass skylight in the foyer as well as the original terrazzo floor.
Friends of ‘
The State Museum of Natural & Cultural History
Location: 1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu.
Phone—Visitor Services: 808-848-4160, 847-3511.
Website: www.bishop.hawaii.org; bishopmuseum.org
Open Daily, 9 a.m.—
[Photograph: Bishop Museum]
History and Purpose
Charles Reed Bishop founded the
Princess Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop, known as Princess Pauahi, died in 1884, leaving an extensive collection of royal family heirlooms and historic artifacts of the Kamehameha era.
An expressed goal of Charles Reed Bishop in founding the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum was to provide enjoyment and education for the Hawaiian people. The Hawaiian name of Bishop Museum, Hale-hō‘ike‘ike-o-Kamehameha, means “Exhibition house of Kamehameha.”
artifacts and other items that make up the substantial collection of
The Hawaiian National Museum had its beginning in 1854 when Hawai‘i’s Legislature appropriated $1000 to procure Hawaiian artifacts. The growth of a museum collection was further encouraged by the desire of King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa Kamehameha) that the Hawaiian Islands should participate in the 1867 Exposition Universalle in Paris, France.
Kamehameha V had been impressed by collections he had seen in
1872, the Legislature authorized the Board of Education and its Chairman of the
Board, Charles Reed Bishop, to establish the “National Museum of Archaeology,
Literature, Botany, Geology and Natural History of the
The Hawaiian National Museum was established in Ali‘iōlani Hale on September 9, 1874, and opened on November 8, 1875. The Museum’s collection included the items mentioned above as well as many artifacts donated by Hawaiian royalty.
artifacts were purchased from the estate of Kana‘ina (the father of King
Lunalilo), and from the collection of Samuel and Mercy Whitney. The Whitneys were missionaries that had
acquired many items during their 50 years in the
however, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, and when the
Bishop Museum was built on the site of the Kamehameha School for Boys, which was established in 1887 under the terms of Princess Pauahi’s will to provide educational resources for children in the Hawaiian Islands. The first buildings of Bishop Museum were Polynesian Hall and Hawaiian Hall.
The cut and dressed volcanic stones used for
the construction were quarried from the site, and the first
Lawe i ka ma‘alea a kū‘ono‘ono.
Take wisdom and make it deep.
Bishop Museum Today—An Overview
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is now the world’s most prominent museum of Polynesian culture and anthropology. As a non-profit organization, the Bishop Museum is associated with a whole array of scientific and cultural endeavors that share the common goal of investigating, preserving and sharing the rich historical legacy and cultural heritage of Hawaiians and other Pacific cultures.
Research and education efforts sponsored by
Bishop Museum’s Hawaiian and Pacific Studies Department researches and preserves historical materials and information about the Hawaiian Islands and other Pacific cultures, while the Pacific Biological Survey studies the species of the Pacific Basin.
The Pacific Center for Molecular Biodiversity uses DNA analysis techniques to investigate plant origins, speciation, and dating of cultural artifacts, and also conducts scientific research relating to modern agricultural issues.
Pacific region initiatives developed at the
Library and Archives contains an extensive collection of historical
materials (more than one million
items), while the Bishop Museum Press
continues to produce quality publications relating to the
Other facilities sponsored by Bishop Museum include the Hawai‘i Maritime Center in Honolulu; the Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden on the island of Hawai‘i; and the Bishop Museum at Kālia, located in Waikīkī’s Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, with exhibits of ancient artifacts and interactive educational programs (see below).
the sheer quantity of objects possessed by
The main buildings of the Bishop Museum are Hawaiian Hall and Polynesian Hall, which are both entered through the Vestibule Gallery. Straight ahead from the entrance are stairs leading to the upper floors of Polynesian Hall, where a plaque above the door states, “To the Memory of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, Founder of Kamehameha Schools. A bright light among her people, her usefulness survives her earthly life.”
Upon entering the Vestibule Gallery, directly to the left is the Kāhili Room (see below). Directly to the right is the Royal Racing Canoe of Prince Kūhiō [Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi], beyond which is the entrance to Hawaiian Hall.
Prince Kūhiō commissioned Henry Weeks Jr., a Kona cabinetmaker, to build the 42-foot (12.8-m) racing canoe in 1902. Known as the ‘Ā, the six-man racing canoe was praised for its design as well as the crews that placed it first in many competitions from 1906 to 1910.
The Prince’s widow, Princess Elizabeth Kalaniana‘ole, donated the canoe to the Bishop Museum in 1923. Fully restored in 1952, the canoe was instrumental in the founding of O‘ahu’s Lanikai Canoe Club.
The Kāhili Room contains a rich display of royal standards, or kāhili, consisting of feather clusters attached to long poles. In ancient Hawai‘i, kāhili were symbols of chiefly rank, and continued to be used throughout the period of the Hawaiian monarchy.
Lele kāhili, holo ka uha‘i, uhi kapa.
Kāhili sway, the door covering is closed, the tapa is drawn up.
The chief sleeps.
Bishop Museum has the world’s largest collection of kāhili, including at least 75 kāhili kū (tall kāhili) as well as 175 kāhili pa‘alima (hand-held, or waving kāhili).
Many of these historic artifacts are on display in the Kāhili Room. Also on display in the Kāhili Room are numerous portraits of Hawaiian monarchs.
[Photograph: Interior of Hawaiian Hall]
Hawaiian Hall is a large rectangular room with an interior space that is open to the three stories high, with many exhibits on display on the first floor as well as on the second and third story balconies on all four sides of the room.
The first floor of Hawaiian Hall contains a full-size hale pili, which is a traditional Hawaiian house thatched with pili grass (Heteropogon contortus, twisted beardgrass). There is also a model of a heiau (traditional Hawaiian sacred place of worship). A stage in the center of the room is where educational Hawaiian shows are performed.
Various exhibits around the perimeter of the first floor include Hawaiian featherwork, calabashes, ancient weapons and an exhibit on traditional hygiene (including a kilo pōhaku, or stone mirror) among other displays.
The second floor of Hawaiian Hall contain exhibits of kapa (tapa) barkcloth, displays on adze production, and numerous items of Hawaiian featherwork, including mahiole (feather crested helmets), ‘ahu ‘ula (feather capes and cloaks), feather lei, and other adornments. Also on display are quilts from the post-contact period.
An exhibit on whaling includes many historic maritime items as well as lei niho palaoa, the prized necklaces made from the teeth of the palaoa (Physeter macrocephalus, sperm whale). Also on the second floor is a portrait of Sanford B. Dole with the caption, “The Grand Old Man of Hawai‘i.”
Recognizable by his bushy gray beard, Sanford B. Dole was the first President of the Provisional Government after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, then President of the Republic of Hawai‘i from 1895 to 1898, and then the first governor of the Territory of Hawai‘i from 1898 to 1903.
The third floor of Hawaiian Hall presents traditional Hawaiian musical instruments as well as historic artifacts relating to the mixed Hawaiian heritage of immigrants from China, Okinawa, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Spain, and Germany.
Also found on the third floor is information about the skeleton of the sperm whale that hangs from the ceiling of Hawaiian Hall. This sperm whale skeleton measures 55 feet, 7 inches long (17 m), and weighs more than 4,300 pounds (1,950 kg). When it was alive, the whale weighed an estimated 50 tons (45 mtons).
The sperm whale skeleton exhibit, when it was completed in 1902, may have been the world’s first full-size whale exhibit. The enormous skeleton of the whale is fully visible from one side, while the other side shows the full body of the whale that has been recreated using papier mâché.
[Note: Hawaiian Hall is currently undergoing renovations, and when these changes are completed they will be reflected in an update of this information, along with other recent changes to the Museum.]
[Photograph: Polynesian Hall]
The second and third floors of Polynesian Hall are dedicated to “Peoples of the Pacific,” with exhibits, artifacts, and information about the many different cultures of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.
masks, clothing items, and hundreds of other ancient artifacts provide a
glimpse into the rich history and culture of such regions as
Hall of Hawaiian Natural History
[Photograph: Hall of Hawaiian Natural History]
the second floor between Polynesian Hall and Hawaiian Hall is the Hall of
Hawaiian Natural History, with exhibits explaining the volcanic origins of the
are also exhibits and information about the insects, birds, and plants, as well
as the evolutionary processes that created the diverse flora and fauna found
E kuhikuhi pono i na au iki a me na au nui o ka ‘ike.
Instruct well in the little and the large currents of knowledge.
In teaching, do it well; the small details are as important as the large ones.
Other Museum Areas
The Bishop Museum Planetarium features multi-media shows exploring topics related to astronomy,
celestial navigation, and the telescopes atop
The Hall of Discovery provides hands-on learning opportunities for children as well as Hawaiian quilting displays and lessons.
Rotunda-Explorers Center holds items relating to the ocean voyages of the
Polynesians who discovered the
Hālau and Canoe Hale was built to provide an area for the construction of
the Hawai‘iloa, a traditional
Polynesian Voyaging Canoe that is now moored in
Castle Hall opened in 1984, and displays special exhibits, often on topics not related to the Hawaiian Islands and Polynesia. Past exhibits have included; animated robots; a 45-foot (13.7-m) long, life-sized cast of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered; science exhibits developed in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and a genetics and DNA exhibit sponsored by the Pacific Science Center (Oct. 2002—Jan. 2003).
February to April in 2004, an exhibit about the Titanic disaster will be
featured. Developed by the
Located between Hawaiian Hall and Pākī Hall is the Hawaiian Courtyard. Developed in 1954, the Courtyard includes many well-labeled native and Polynesian-introduced plants intermingled with historic stone artifacts, such as a shaped image of a shark god that was originally in front of Mo‘okini Heiau at ‘Umiwai on the island of Hawai‘i.
Another hidden treasure in the Hawaiian Courtyard is a large papa kōnane, a stone with indentations in it that were used to play the checker-like, traditional Hawaiian game called kōnane.
Sports Hall of Fame
Duke Kahanamoku was known as Hawai‘i’s “Ambassador of Aloha.” (See Duke Kahanamoku, Chapter 3.) Another famous surfer in the Sports Hall of Fame is Rell Kapoiloka‘ehukai Sunn (1950-1998), an outstanding waterwoman, pioneer woman surfer, hula dancer, canoe racer, and mentor for many others. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1998.)
Rell Kapoiloka‘ehukai Sunn was the first female lifeguard in the Hawaiian Islands, and like Duke Kahanamoku, she was also a community leader, and a well-respected and loved Hawaiian “ambassador of aloha.”
The Sports Hall of Fame also displays many photographs, medals, and memorabilia of other sports heroes of Hawai‘i’s past, including football players, boxers, golfers and other star athletes. Famous broadcasters and sports promoters of Hawai‘i’s past are also featured.
Bishop Museum Library and Archives
Location: Pākī Hall, directly behind Hawaiian Hall.
Phone: Library: 808-848-4148 / Archives: 808-848-4182
The Bishop Museum Library and Archives contain more than 115,000 historical documents and publications along with an extensive collection of manuscripts (personal papers and other unpublished materials), audio recordings (including oral histories), photographs, artistic works, films, movie images, maps, and other important historical items relating to the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific. In all, the collection totals more than one million items.
Ka waihona o ka na‘auao.
The repository of learning.
Said in admiration of a learned person.
The Museum Library and Archives maintains various indexes available for online public access. These include the Mele (Chant & Song) Index and the Genealogy Collection.
extensive photograph collection of
Hale Kā‘eo &
and Polynesian-introduced plants that had traditional and medicinal uses in
ancient Hawai‘i are cultivated in the
growing in the
A stand of pili grass (Heteropogon contortus, twisted beardgrass) allows the visitor to see the grass that was traditionally used to thatch houses in ancient Hawai‘i. The indigenous ‘uhaloa (Waltheria indica) is the same species that was used to strain many medicinal preparations in ancient Hawai‘i.
Also growing in the Science Garden is makaloa (Cyperus laevigatus), which Hawaiians used to make the finest sleeping mats in all of ancient Polynesia. A small, irrigated lo‘i kalo (taro patch) provides a close-up look at the heart-shaped leaves of the Polynesian-introduced kalo (Colocasia esculenta, taro). The underground tubers of taro are used to make poi, a staple food of ancient Hawai‘i.
Various other native and Polynesian-introduced plants are found in the Hale Kā‘eo & Science Garden, including ma‘o (Gossypium sandvicense, Hawaiian cotton); the indigenous fern kupukupu (Nephrolepis cordifolia); and the endemic kulu‘ī (Nototrichium sandwicense).
Bishop Museum staff provide educational talks about the traditional Hawaiian uses of the plants. (See Native and Polynesian-Introduced Plants sections, Chapters 8 and 9, for more information about the plants mentioned above.)
Bishop Museum Press
The Bishop Museum Press was founded in 1892, and today maintains its uninterrupted record of producing quality publications. Known as Hawai‘i’s oldest continuous publisher, Bishop Museum Press prints a wide array of books relating to the cultural and natural history of the Hawaiian Islands and other Pacific cultures.
Scholars associated with the Bishop Museum include prominent geologists, biologists, anthropologists and others who have published hundreds of academic studies relating to the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific region.
Other Bishop Museum Sites
Also affiliated with Bishop Museum is the Hawai‘i Maritime Center in Honolulu, and docked there, the ship Falls of Clyde as well as the Hawai‘iloa and Hōkūle‘a Voyaging Canoes (when they are not away on voyages or undergoing repairs).
Other Bishop Museum sites include the Bishop Museum at Kālia in Waikīkī’s Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel and the Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden on the island of Hawai‘i. These locations are described below.
Hawai‘i Maritime Center
Location: Pier 7, Honolulu Harbor / Phone: 808-535-6373 / Open 8:30-8 daily
The Hawai‘i Maritime Center is located at Pier 7 in Honolulu Harbor in the King Kalākaua Boathouse Museum. The Hawai‘i Maritime Center contains a wealth of information and exhibits on everything from canoe racing and surfing to the whaling era, including a complete skeleton of a koholā (Megaptera novaeangliae, humpback whale). Information is presented on many significant events associated with the maritime history of the Hawaiian Islands.
Docked next to the Boathouse is the 266-foot (81-m) Falls of Clyde, as well as the Hōkūle‘a Voyaging Canoe and Hawai‘iloa Voyaging Canoe, when the sailing vessels are not away on journeys.
Educational talks include information about the voyaging canoes and the renaissance of Hawaiian long-distance ocean voyaging (see below).