By Ryan Ozawa
Local school kids probably know Bishop Museum mostly as the place where traveling exhibits of dinosaurs or spaceships come through the state, and it always draws a solid mix of residents and tourists. But the areas open to the public — from Hawaii Hall to the Science Adventure Center, from the planetarium to the Castle Memorial Building — are truly just the tip of the iceberg.
Founded in 1889, and perhaps it's not surprising that Bishop Museum is the largest museum in Hawaii. But it also represents itself quite well on the national stage. The size of its various collections, most of which have never been on display, rank it among the top five institutions in the country.
The inventory is huge: 24.7 million items, including more than 22 million specimens of plant and animal life and 1.3 million cultural artifacts from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island communities. And the expertise and accomplishments of its researchers and staff are world class.
Today, the museum hosted the members of the Hawaii Science Writers Association, some of whom flew in from the neighbor islands to participate. The outreach team, research leads and staff put together a whirlwind tour of many of Bishop Museum's notable collections, and we got to hear from and talk to some of the great scientific and academic minds that toil away behind the scenes.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn2DRPQ6nC8?rel=0]
Bishop Museum is working on ways to expose more of its massive but hidden collections to the public, and nearly everyone we saw issued an open invitation to visit and explore.
“I really encourage people to come in and use the herbarium, because I kind of feel like if people aren't using this place, what good is it?” said Barbara Kennedy, Botany Collections Manager. “I want people coming in and using it.”
For more information on Bishop Museum, visit the website, follow @bishopmuseum on Twitter, or connect on Facebook. You can also learn more about the Hawaii Science Writers Association, including how to join.
Thanks to HSWA's Lavonne Leong and the Bishop Museum team for putting together today's program. I hope more people will be able to get a closer look at all the work they are doing and all the great resources the museum has to offer.