Bishop Museum

Enjoy a Look at Hawaii's Industry and Modern Accomplishments at the Bishop Museum
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

A visit to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii should be part of any vacation itinerary that values learning about the cultural significance of the state and the people who call it home now and have for generations. While there are many exhibits that stay put, there are some rotating special exhibitions and special events, ensuring every visit offers plenty to see, enjoy, and experience, even if you have visited the museum before. 

- The Local Expert Team

Located off of Bernice Street in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Bishop Museum was founded back in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop. A way to honor his late wife Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who was the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. The original purchase of the museum was to house the extensive collection of royal family heirlooms, Hawaiian objects, and more. Today, it has expanded and includes millions of documents, photographs, and objects that represent Hawaii as well as other Pacific island cultures. 

The Bishop Museum today holds the distinction of being the largest museum in the state. It serves as a premier cultural and natural historic institution. Recognized worldwide for its research projects, cultural collections, public educational programs, and consulting services. Boasting the largest natural history specimen collection in the world.  

The mission of the Bishop Museum is to inspire the community and visitors through the exploration, celebrations, and perpetuation of the extraordinary history, culture, and environment of Hawaii and the Pacific. For more than 130 years, this museum has proudly brought Hawaii to the world and the world to Hawaii. 

There are many featured exhibits within the Bishop Museum. Those that change or are updated regularly. Some of the most notable ones that you can see throughout the year anytime you visit the museum include the Campus Mural collection. This outdoor mural exhibit is an immersive art experience. Designed to bridge the gap between creative expression and traditional culture, all with indigenous perspectives. Each moral was completed in 2021 in conjunction with the exhibit Pow! Pow! The First Decade: From Hawaii to the World. This exhibit proudly showcased some notable Hawaii-based artists, sculptors, and international street artists. 

Another regular exhibit you can enjoy when visiting the Bishop Museum is the Hawaiian Hall. This exhibit takes you on a journey through the different realms of Hawaii. The first floor begins in the realm of the Kai Akea or Hawaiian gods. Here, you will learn about beliefs, legends, and the world as it was before Hawaii was contacted. The second floor is the Wao Kanaka. It represents the realm where people work and live. This focuses on the daily lives of Hawaiians. 

The Pacific Hall is another noteworthy exhibit that remains in place. Here, you will explore Moananuiakea, the wide expanse of Oceania. The first floor features cultural treasures like woven mats, model canoes, contemporary artwork, and even videos of Pacific scholars. On the second floor, you will learn about the migrations and origins of the Pacific peoples through archeology, linguistics, and oral traditions. 

Another exhibit that is a substantial part of the experience at the Bishop Museum is the Picture Gallery. Here, you will view some of the world’s finest collections of 19th-century Hawaiian art including watercolors, oil paintings, collectibles, and rare books. Of course, no visit is complete without a stop in the Na Ulu Kaiwiula Native Hawaiian Garden. This garden features important plants within Hawaiian culture. Including many found nowhere else on earth. 

The Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center is another noteworthy part of the Bishop Museum. This 16,500-square-foot facility features immersive, interactive exhibits that highlight the issues of Hawaii’s environment. This portion of the museum allows you to see how Hawaii has proudly gained international recognition for its cutting-edge research in the fields of biodiversity, oceanography, and volcanology.

Insider Tips:
-The Planetarium is another part of the museum you will want to see. This planetarium has enjoyed over six million visitors and students over its 60 years of operation. 
-The Bishop Museum also features the Bishop Museum Press, which has proudly produced scholarly materials in Hawaii for over 130 years. You can shop for books, Ebooks, gifts, and more from their press. 
-You can become a member of the Bishop Museum or donate to further their cause and help keep their exhibits and collections in good condition for generations to come.