Bishop Museum Honors Duke Kahanamoku

Bishop Museum Honors Duke Kahanamoku

Lively exhibits and a stage play bring Hawaii's watersports legend to life By: Marty Wentzel
<p>Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s famed surfing and swimming star // © 2015 Bishop Museum Archives</p><p>Feature image (above): The new exhibit is...

Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s famed surfing and swimming star // © 2015 Bishop Museum Archives

Feature image (above): The new exhibit is presented by the Bishop Museum, located 6 miles northwest of Waikiki. // © 2015 HTA/Tor Johnson

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The Details

Bishop Museum

Honolulu Theatre for Youth

Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s world-famous surfer, Olympic swimmer, film star and ambassador of aloha, is taking center stage in an exhibit at Honolulu’s Bishop Museum through Nov. 30.

Celebrating the 125th anniversary of Kahanamoku’s birth, the original exhibit appeals to a variety of clients, from fans of surfing and swimming to history and culture buffs.

Hands-on displays enliven the experience. A 3-D video game lets visitors reenact Kahanamoku’s legendary mile-long surfboard ride in Waikiki. In a swimming interactive, clients can try to replicate his 1920 Olympic record time in the 100-meter freestyle. 

Archival videos and photos follow Kahanamoku through various phases of his life and career. Visitors can see images of him on movie sets and with celebrity friends such as Arthur Godfrey and Cary Grant. 

Artifacts from some of Kahanamoku’s additional ventures include the badge he wore as Honolulu’s sheriff for 26 years. Among his personal memorabilia is the ukulele he traveled with as Hawaii’s unofficial ambassador of aloha. 

Timed with the exhibit, Bishop Museum is partnering with Honolulu Theatre for Youth on “Duke,” a stage play about Kahanamoku’s life. It will run from Oct. 16 to Nov. 14.

The exhibit can add depth to a client’s overall Oahu vacation experience, said Claudette Springer, marketing manager for Bishop Museum.

“Duke’s legacy permeates many aspects of Hawaii’s visitor industry — especially in Waikiki — from his statue at Waikiki Beach to the various Duke’s restaurants and products,” Springer said. “The quote ‘Aloha is my creed’ guided Duke’s extraordinary life. To know him is to know Hawaii.”