IN A NUTSHELL
- Interactive Vocano
- Cultural History
- Nice grassy picnic areas
- Many exhibits and features were out-of order when we went, making the $10.95 Kamaina Admission Price seem rather steep.
Be Sure To Check Out:
The Black Light Tunnel and Volcano in the Science Adventure Center is perfect for kids and makes learning about local geology fun.
The Bishop Museum, formerly the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, was built in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in memory of his wife, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last legal heir of the Kamehameha Dynasty. Charles Bishop was also the co-founder of Kamehameha Schools, and the museum was built on the former boys’ campus of the school.
Upon entering Hawaii Hall I thought I had made a huge mistake. I was surrounded by beautiful Native Hawaiian Artifacts, robes and feathers worn by the monarchy themselves, and plenty of fragile historical treasures begging for my two-year-old to handle and break. I tried to keep pushing through, holding her hand, chasing her down, or carrying her while she repeated “Wanna walk!” to all the quiet intelligent people within earshot trying to soak up some culture.
Luckily though there were other families there, and the occasional high pitch scream that kids and toddlers are prone to making. While I personally would have loved to stay and learn more about the history of our islands, as well as others in Polynesia, this part of the museum was just not tailored to toddlers. There was, however, a giant sperm whale hanging from the ceiling, as well as sharks, schools of fish, turtles, birds, and more sea creatures. We went to the third floor to get a better look at everything, but did not stay in there for more than ten minutes (probably to everyone else’s relief)
As soon as we made our way down to the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center, I knew we had come to the right place. The Science Adventure Center is far more tailored to keiki (as well as adults who might find traditional museums tedious). Virtually everything in the building is interactive. A giant volcano was on the right, and the entrance to a tunnel was to our left. We decided to head through the tunnel first, after passing an “interactive” globe that was out of order.
To say it in the most simple terms, the tunnel was far-out. It was dark with a black light illuminating neon colored native Hawaiian flora, fauna and rainbows lining the walls. Every keiki who entered got a kick out of the way their shoes or shirts lit up in the black light. Continuing through the tunnel brought guests to another fascinating exhibit on volcanos and under water adventure.
Keiki could put on a scuba diver vest and manipulate the view on a screen with Wii technology to stimulate being an underwater photographer. There was also a giant tank with an underwater camera and controls on the outside for chidden to change the direction of the shot. A “hot wax” volcano provided additional fun. Turning a wheel one way made the volcano spill hot wax “lava”, simulating the slow spilling eruption of a shield volcano. Turning the wheel the opposite way was supposed to create craters, although I did not really see that happening when I tried.
Continuing up into the Volcano are more educational activities regarding volcanos, such as boxes where children can “feel” hardened lava with out seeing it to determine if it’s a’a or pahoehoe. My daughter’s favorite by far though was the actual slide for children to slide out of the volcano! It is easy to miss as it appears to just be a cave in the wall, but as you walk through it you find yourself on a long white slide. Parents feel free to let even the youngest baby on this slide, it is the slowest flattest slide ever, but still exciting for the keiki because hey – it is a slide in a museum.
I had to drag my daughter out of the Science Adventure Center because she loved it and wanted to stay. In hindsight we might have done better skipping Hawaii Hall and going straight to the Adventure Center, at least while she’s still too young to fully appreciate history (although the koa wood display cases are beautiful!)
We had a picnic lunch on the grass between Hawaiian Hall and the Castle Memorial Building and the weather could not have been nicer. There were iron chairs and tables in the grass under a tree that suited us just perfectly.
While there, we checked out one of their current special exhibitions. For more information on this super keiki friendly exhibit, check out our post Sesame Street Presents: The Body, located in our events section since it is not a permanent feature of The Bishop Museum.
The Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium had fun interactive features and a mesmerizing globe in the center of the outside room. A touch screen exhibit allows guest to enter their address to figure out if they are in a tsunami danger zone, and another gives users the opportunity to go on a Gemini Observation Virtual Tour of Mauna Kea.
Unfortunately, the planetarium was temporarily closed for the installation of a new full-dome video system so we were not able to check out the show.
There was also supposed to be a Lava Melting Demonstration at their “Meet Me At The Hot Spot” show in the Science Adventure Center Hot Spot Theater at noon daily, but the furnace in the theater was closed for refurbishment.
This was in addition to the fact that about 25% of everything we saw had an out-of-order sign on it. At $10.95 an adult, having this many features down, two of them being highlights they advertise on their website, is somewhat disappointing. To their credit, they had signs posting that the planetarium and lava show would not function at the entrance (although it was not posted on their website). Still, it might have been nice for them to perhaps schedule the new installations and refurbishment at separate times. Luckily, according to their signs, the Planetarium should be up and running by the time you are reading this, although I recommend calling before heading out there just to make sure you do not end up disappointed.
Parking is available in the museum parking lot and is free of charge.
For more information, check out their website: http://www.bishopmuseum.orgGeneral Admission
Adult: $17.95 Senior, 65 & over: $14.95 Child ages 4-12: $14.95 Child, age 3 & under: Free Kama‘āina/Military Admissions (ID req’d) Adult: $10.95 Junior: $8.95 Senior: $8.95 Children 3 and under: Free Guest of Kama‘āina/Military (sponsor’s ID req’d) Adult: $14.95 Junior: $11.95 Senior: $11.95 Children 3 and under: Free