Museum buffs may have to give up a lot of beach time if they choose to dig through the halls and exhibits of Oahu’s wide array of galleries.
In addition to the Bishop Museum, you’ll find the Hawaii Maritime Center, the Mission Houses Museum, ‘Iolani Palace and variety of more finely focused and fascinating museums. They all promise interesting collections. Following are a few that stand out.
The Honolulu Museum of Art
The Honolulu Museum of Art, 900 S. Beretania St., maintains one of the most important assemblages of Asian art that can be found in American museums. But its 30 galleries are almost equally divided between Western and Asian works.
The Hawaii State Art Museum
The Hawaii State Art Museum, 250 S. Hotel St., is within walking distance of Chinatown and is an art collection for public places collected by the state. Its ongoing exhibition features the work of more than 100 Hawaii artists.
The U.S. Army Museum
The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii at Ft. DeRussy in Waikiki contains a collection of war memorabilia including helicopters, tanks, guns and vacant bunkers. Once a bastion built to protect Hawaii from invading forces, the structure now houses a museum that tells the military story of Hawaii, from ancient times to the Gulf War and the War in Iraq. Each of these hostilities is covered graphically in separate displays with photographs and sound effects.
An exhibit featuring General Eric K. Shinseki showcases his decorated military career. General Shinseki , originally from Kauai, is the first Japanese-American soldier to become the Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
Admission is free to the museum, which is open Tuesday – Saturday and is part of the Fort DeRussy reserve and recreation complex and occupies the former Battery Randolph built in 1911. One of six coastal implacements built on Oahu by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, it was built so well that when workers tried to demolish it with a wrecking ball in 1969, the concrete sides actually smashed the ball instead, so they decided to turn it into a museum.
Hawaii Surfing Museum
For surf buffs, the Hawaii Surfing Museum, 67-106 Kealohanui St., Haleiwa, is a fun stop.
Queen Emma’s Summer Palace
On the way to the Pali Lookout, you might want to stop for a tour of Queen Emma’s Summer Palace. Surrounded by a lush garden, the palace was built in 1843 as a summer retreat for Queen Emma, the wife of King Kamehameha IV. In 1913, plans were announced to tear down the palace and build a baseball field. The Daughters of Hawaii Preservation Society stepped in and saved it from destruction.
The palace, just 5 minutes away from downtown Honolulu in Nu’uanu Valley, is now maintained by the Society as a museum.
King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center
The King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, located in Ali’iolani Hale, was originally designed in 1869 to be a “house of Kings,” but King Kamehameha V decided that the kingdom needed an administrative center more than a grand palace.
The building is designed in Renaissance Revival style, and is gorgeous to behold. The Center features a restored courtroom and exhibits that trace Hawaii’s transition from Hawaiian law to the post-contact western law.