What Is the Bishop Museum?

B. Turner

The Bishop Museum is an art and cultural museum in Honolulu, Hawaii. Its official name is the Hawaiian State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, though it is more commonly called the Bernice P. Bishop, or simply the Bishop Museum. Bernice Bishop was a Hawaiian princess, and when she died, her husband transformed her extensive collection of artifacts into a museum where the public could enjoy them. This facility is now the largest museum in the state of Hawaii, and is recognized globally for its collection of Hawaiian and Polynesian artifacts.

The Bishop Museum offers hula dancing.
The Bishop Museum offers hula dancing.

A three-story building known as the Hawaiian Hall serves as the main exhibit area of the Bishop Museum. Within this building, visitors can view hundreds of artifacts related to Polynesian and Hawaiian culture and history. This structure also houses numerous works by Hawaiian and Polynesian artists, from classic works to modern creations. Visitors can also explore the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame, which celebrates the achievements of Hawaiians in both local and international sporting events.

The Bishop Museum contains a lava-melting demonstration.
The Bishop Museum contains a lava-melting demonstration.

At the Watamull Planetarium on the grounds of the Bishop Museum, visitors can explore the wonder of the night sky. Special events teach guest about the stars in the sky around Hawaii, or how the people of Polynesia relied on the stars to navigate in ancient times. During major celestial events, the Planetarium hosts parties, lectures, and workshops that combine education and entertainment.

The Bishop Museum also offers hula dancing shows twice daily on weekdays. These shows are free with paid admission. Guests can watch shows by skilled hula dancers, and learn some basic hula skills to try at home. For those with special interests, such as plants or architecture of Hawaii, the Bishop Museum offers a variety of customized tours that highlight the exhibits that focus on these topics. Outside of the museum, visitors can also partake in garden tours.

After a visit to Hawaiian Hall, visitors can walk next door to the Bishop Museum's Science Adventure Center. One of the main attractions in this building is the lava-melting demonstration, which takes place twice a day. Guests of all ages can climb them a recreation of a volcano, or explore an undersea zone. Many of the exhibits in the Adventure Center focus on the environment, the ocean, and nature.

The Bishop Museum is open six days per week, and closed on Tuesdays. All visitors must purchase a ticket, which includes entry into the Hawaiian Hall, the planetarium and the Adventure Center. Those interested in visiting museums throughout other parts of Hawaii can take a trip to the Ethnobotanical Garden on the big island of Hawaii, which is managed by the Bishop Museum.

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