Because visitors to islands often look to us locals for places to go and things to see, it’s a good idea have some suggestions handy.
I tend to base my recommendations on my own likes and preferences, and I’m a history buff. I know that when I travel I like to get as much of a sense the history of the place as I can. So I’m going to point you, my virtual visitor, to a few of my favorite historical museums.
First and foremost is Mission Houses Museum. Located in downtown Honolulu just next door to Kawaiaha`o Church, Mission Houses is just about my favorite. I used to volunteer as a docent there, giving visitors and school groups tours of the actual houses in which the first Christian missionaries to Hawaii lived and worked.
To be able to walk through their rooms, up and down the steep, narrow staircases, and and see their furniture and belongings, while hearing their true stories — most of which we know from their own words, preserved in the museum’s archives — is a powerful and moving way to learn about what life in Hawaii was like all those years ago.
What with the outdoor cooking (and plumbing), and several families sharing the same little New England-style house, it was no walk in the park, I can tell you.
Plus, I just get a kick out of seeing their stuff. Which is why I also enjoy another missionary house museum, this one on Hawaii Island: Lyman Museum. This one has a bit more to it, in terms of a variety of art and artifacts on exhibit, in addition to the original home, and is a wonderful representation of the diversity of our island heritage. And it has a natural history component which gives you a great feel for how the islands were formed out of volcanoes rising up from the sea.
And of course, I wouldn’t dare have you miss `Iolani Palace. The only royal palace on American soil, `Iolani is utterly unique and truly priceless. It is more of an emotional experience, too, than you get at many museums. This is not merely because of the often tragic stories of our Hawaiian royalty, but because so much of what the palace originally held has disappeared, although an effort to recover these precious artifacts is an ongoing project. I guarantee your tour of our beloved palace will take your breath away.
This is the twenty-first post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.