Food, drinks and music bring exhibits to life during ARTafterDARK, a hip monthly event at Honolulu Museum of Art. // © 2014 Honolulu Museum of Art
Feature image (above): Guests of all ages get a thrill from 3D planetarium shows at Imiloa Astronomy Center. // © 2014 Imiloa Astronomy Center
How do whales sing? Why do volcanoes erupt? Can live music enhance art? The answers to these and other questions await in lively fashion at various museums in Hawaii.
Each museum collection does a great job of entertaining and educating visitors, featuring hands-on activities and ongoing events that do their own part in teaching guests about the destination. The end results are dynamic museum experiences guaranteed to enrich an island visit. Here are five of my favorites.
This Honolulu icon shares the history of Hawaii and the Pacific. The Hawaiian Hall’s artifacts and heirlooms immerse guests in native culture, while the planetarium shows how Pacific voyagers steered by the stars. In the Science Adventure Center, Hawaii’s natural environment springs to life through interactive displays. The museum also hosts world-class traveling exhibits, from Legos to dinosaurs.
Honolulu Museum of Art
Courtyards, gardens and ponds set the stage for Hawaii's largest general fine arts museum, home of Asian, Western, European, Hawaiian and Polynesian works. During ARTafterDARK on the last Friday of each month (from January through October), visitors can dance to live music and mingle with fellow art lovers in a themed block party environment, with food and drinks. The museum also offers films and concerts in its theater.
Imiloa Astronomy Center
This Hawaii Island hub gets folks excited about Hawaiian culture, technology and science. In its Origins area, interactive exhibits explore the birth of the cosmos and beginnings of life on Earth. Its 3D planetarium engages families in stories about the skies, with programs hosted by astronomers. The planetarium even screens Christmas-themed movies and HD rock concerts.
Step inside this classic lava rock building and discover a creative recap of Kauai’s past and present through artifacts and art. Weekly activities include old-style storytelling, coconut frond weaving, Hawaiian quilting classes and live music. The first Friday of each month brings midday entertainment and food in the courtyard. First Saturdays feature music, dancing and crafts based on cultural themes.
Whalers Village Museum
Whale songs serenade guests in this Maui gem. Visitors are whisked back to the hardscrabble life of 19th-century whalers who were based in nearby town of Lahaina. Scrimshaw, boat models, whaling tools, movies and other memorabilia tell tales while docents add insights to the mix. Right offshore, guests can easily spot the real-life whales of winter in the Auau Channel, a Hawaii museum in its own right.