Hawaii is known for its stunning natural beauty, but the islands also boast an impressive collection of museums that offer visitors a chance to learn about the rich cultural history of the state. From art museums to science museums, there’s no shortage of fascinating exhibits to explore.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best museums in Hawaii that are worth a visit.
Bishop Museum – Honolulu, Oahu
The Bishop Museum in Honolulu is Hawaii’s largest museum and is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history and culture of Hawaii and the Pacific. The museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including ancient Hawaiian artifacts, natural history, and the scientific study of Pacific cultures.
Visitors can explore the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts, including textiles, tools, weapons, and musical instruments, and learn about the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people. The museum also features a planetarium and a science center, making it a great destination for families with kids.
Hawaii State Art Museum – Honolulu, Oahu
The Hawaii State Art Museum in downtown Honolulu is dedicated to showcasing the work of Hawaii’s most talented artists. The museum’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, and other works of art that showcase the unique culture and history of Hawaii.
Visitors can also enjoy temporary exhibitions that showcase the work of local artists, as well as concerts and other cultural events throughout the year. Admission to the museum is free, making it a great destination for budget-conscious travelers.
Maui Arts & Cultural Center – Kahului, Maui
The Maui Arts & Cultural Center is a state-of-the-art facility that features a wide range of exhibits and performances showcasing the art and culture of Hawaii.
Visitors can explore the center’s galleries, which feature a wide range of contemporary and traditional art, as well as take in a performance at the center’s theater. The center also hosts a wide range of cultural events throughout the year, including concerts, dance performances, and film screenings.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor – Honolulu, Oahu
The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a must-visit destination for aviation enthusiasts. The museum is located on historic Ford Island in Pearl Harbor and features a collection of vintage aircraft, including bombers and fighter planes from World War II.
Visitors can also explore the museum’s exhibits, which showcase the history of aviation in the Pacific and the role that Hawaii played in the development of aviation technology. The museum is located near the USS Arizona Memorial and other historic sites, making it a great destination for history buffs.
Lyman Museum – Hilo, Big Island
The Lyman Museum in Hilo is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the natural and cultural history of Hawaii. The museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including geology, volcanology, and the history of Hawaii’s indigenous people.
Visitors can explore the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts, including tools, weapons, and musical instruments, and learn about the unique ecology and geology of the Hawaiian islands. The museum also features a beautiful botanical garden that showcases the diverse plant life of Hawaii.
Lahaina Restoration Foundation – Lahaina, Maui
The Lahaina Restoration Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the historic town of Lahaina on Maui. The foundation operates several museums and historic sites in the town, including the Wo Hing Museum, which showcases the history of Chinese immigrants in Hawaii, and the Baldwin Home Museum, which offers a glimpse into the daily life of a missionary family in 19th-century Hawaii.
Visitors can also explore the historic sites of Lahaina, including the Lahaina Banyan Court Park and the Lahaina Jodo Mission.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park – Honolulu, Oahu
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park is a must-visit destination for history buffs and anyone interested in military history. The museum is located at Pearl Harbor and features the USS Bowfin, a World War II submarine that played a key role in the Pacific theater of the war.
Visitors can explore the submarine and learn about the daily life of its crew, as well as the technology and tactics used in submarine warfare during World War II. The museum also features exhibits on other aspects of naval history, including the role of submarines in the Cold War and modern-day submarine technology.
Imiloa Astronomy Center – Hilo, Big Island
The Imiloa Astronomy Center is a unique museum that explores the intersection of astronomy, Hawaiian culture, and the natural history of the Hawaiian islands.
The center features interactive exhibits that allow visitors to explore the night sky, learn about the history of Hawaiian navigation, and explore the geology and ecology of the islands. The center also features a planetarium and hosts a range of events and educational programs throughout the year.
Honolulu Museum of Art – Honolulu, Oahu
The Honolulu Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the state, with a collection that spans a wide range of styles and periods. The museum’s collection includes works by European masters such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Gauguin, as well as traditional and contemporary art from Hawaii and the Pacific.
The museum also features a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden and hosts a range of events and programs throughout the year.
Polynesian Cultural Center – Laie, Oahu
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a unique museum that offers visitors a chance to learn about the culture and traditions of the people of Polynesia. The center features six distinct “villages” that showcase the art, music, dance, and cuisine of different Polynesian cultures, including Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and Hawaii.
Visitors can also enjoy a range of performances, including a traditional luau and a spectacular evening show that celebrates the history and culture of Polynesia.
Hawaii’s museums offer visitors a chance to learn about the rich cultural history of the state and explore a wide range of topics, from art and natural history to aviation and military history.
Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply interested in learning more about Hawaii’s unique culture and traditions, there’s a museum in Hawaii that’s sure to capture your interest.
From the Bishop Museum in Honolulu to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, these are just a few of the best museums in Hawaii that are well worth a visit. So next time you’re in Hawaii, be sure to check out some of these fascinating museums and discover all that the islands have to offer.