Maui Historical Society

The Maui Historical Society’s Hale Hoikeike: Explore Remarkable Artifacts on the Grounds of a 19th-century Wailuku Seminary
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Maui Historical Society’s Hale Hoikeike—also known as the Bailey House Museum—curates one of Hawaii’s most impressive historical and archaeological collections. Situated on the grounds of a 19th-century women’s seminary in Wailuku, the museum showcases remarkable objects from both pre-contact Native Hawaii and Maui’s missionary era. It’s absolutely worth a visit for any Valley Isle visitor.

- The Local Expert Team

One of the largest and richest collections of historical artifacts on Maui, Hale Hoikeike at the Bailey House is a must-stop in Wailuku. The grounds and buildings themselves are historically significant, as this is a former women’s seminary established back in 1837.

The museum—opened on the 120th anniversary of the seminary’s creation and run by the Maui Historical Society—is also commonly called by its former name, the Bailey House Museum. This name refers to Edward Bailey and his family, who took over the seminary a few years into its operation from its founder, Reverend Jonathan Green. Green had received the blessing of Maui’s governor, Hoapili, to create the Central Wailuku Female Seminary. After the seminary closed in 1849, Bailey established the Bailey & Sons Sugar Plantation, and later became known as an accomplished, self-taught painter. 

Belongings of the Bailey family and an extensive collection of Bailey’s oil paintings are among the 2,000-piece-strong collection at Hale Hoikeike, particularly in the Kahekili and Kepoikai rooms. There are also many historical photographs, documents, and other items stemming from the seminary and other relics of the missionary era. 

But the most remarkable artifacts are Native Hawaiian in origin. In the spectacular Keopuolini  Room, for example, you can see such marvelous pieces as the bark cloth known as kapa, vintage feather leis, and jewelry and ornaments made from whalebone, shells, kukui nuts, and other objects.There’s also an incredibly striking wooden carving of the Hawaiian hog demi-god Kamapuaa, known among other exploits for a tempestuous relationship with the volcano goddess Pele.

Other highlights include an ornate table that Queen Liliuokalani owned and a Haaheo Aloha quilt woven in her honor after the overthrow of her kingdom. Some Hawaiian biology is covered by the museum as well: Don’t miss the amazing collection of Hawaiian land snails in the Keoni Room, the oldest of the property’s buildings.

Outside, the Halau Waa (Canoe House) displays a magnificent 19th-century Big Island canoe carved from a single koa log as well as Duke Kahanamoku’s 10-foot-long redwood surfboard.

The Hale Hoikeike grounds also include the Chas Fisher Memorial Gardens, which feature both native and non-native plants, a research library, and a gift shop selling Hawaiian crafts, books, and other wares.

The Maui Historical Society throws a number of annual and special events at the museum, including the Moonlight Mele concert celebrating traditional Hawaiian music and the Lei Day Heritage Festival.

Any visitor to Maui should consider a walk-through of Hale Hoikeike at the Bailey House. The museum provides a rich overview of the island’s history and native culture: a valuable context for touring the Valley Isle’s mountains and coastlines.

Insider Tip:
The museum can provide information on a self-guided tour of some of the other numerous historical sites around Wailuku.