How often do you get the chance to experience something you’ll (probably) never see in-person? Not often enough, I say!

That’s why the Bishop Museum in Honolulu is featuring a new exhibit called “Journeys: Heritge of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.” The exhibit focuses on the history, science, and culture of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a place so remote, pristine, and fantastic that most of us will never get to see it.

But, you may be wondering: What is the Papahuanaumokuakea Marine National Monument — and why should I care what it is?!

Well, the Hawaiian island chain actually extends another thousand miles to the northwest, to a chain of small islands, atolls and barely submerged reefs. This part of the archipelago provides a vital connection to the cultural and natural history of the main Hawaiian Islands. In fact, according to the Bishop Museum, Papahanaumokuakea is a model for regeneration and revitalization of unique natural and cultural landscapes.

fish in the ocean

Photo: Bishop Museum

About 24 percent of reef fish are endemic; at Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the rate is about 23 percent. In Papahanaumokuakea, as reported in a study published last month, researchers discovered that “some reefs at 300-foot depths of Kure Atoll have 100 percent endemism.

While no longer inhabited by humans, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are densely populated by wildlife, including seabirds, turtles, endangered Hawaiian monk seals and species of fish endemic to Hawaii, meaning they exist only here, Richard Pyle, a zoologist and associate researcher at the museum, told the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

To give you some persepective, Pyle told the Honolulu Star Advertiser, “in the main Hawaiian Islands, about 24 percent of reef fish are endemic; at Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the rate is about 23 percent. In Papahanaumokuakea, as reported in a study published last month, researchers discovered that “some reefs at 300-foot depths of Kure Atoll have 100 percent endemism.”

Now that you know the importance and significance of the area, let’s turn our attention to the exhibit itself. Here are a few things you’ll see at this fascinating Bishop Museum in Hawaii exhibit:

  • An original exhibit which will highlight kii (carved figures) from Mokumanamana-six from Bishop Museum’s Ethnology collection and two on-loan from the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Memorabilia from the “Golden Age of Air Travel”, when Midway was a key stop on transpacific routes.
  • The story of the Battle of Midway, the turning point in the Pacific Theater in World War 2.
  • A showcase featuring the functioning ecosystem and spiritual significance of Papahanaumokuakea, a model for regeneration and revitalization of unique natural and cultural landscapes
sharks in the ocean

Photo: Bishop Museum

According to the Bishop Museum, Papahanaumokuakea is a model for regeneration and revitalization of unique natural and cultural landscapes.

The Bishop Museum in Hawaii exhibit also allows visitors to experience the natural beauty and rich history of the islands with multimedia exhibits and hands-on interactives including:

  • An interactive map
  • A Battle of Midway flight simulator
  • A virtual reef dive
  • A a life-sized, realistic Hawaiian monk seal statue
  • Dozens of rarely seen objects from our Cultural and Natural History collections.

Hard to believe the islands of Hawaii don’t end with Kauai and the Big Island — in fact, they extend thousands of miles to the northwest! So, if you need a break from surfing, Sea Life Park, or stand-up paddling (or maybe you have a puka of time to fill before your luau), head to the Bishop Museum and soak-up some history and culture!

Where: Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St.

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, through Jan. 29

 Cost: General admission: adults $22.95, seniors (65+) $19.95, youth (4–12) $14.95; Hawaii residents and military with ID: adults $14.95, seniors $12.95, youth $10.95; museum members and children ages 3 and younger, free

 Info: 847-3511, bishopmuseum.org

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