The 10 Best Museums in Hawaii!

Hawaii isn’t just a place to vacation, or a place for surf sessions and wave breaks. This paradise is home to a rich culture that dates back for many centuries. From the fascinating Polynesian heritage woven deeply into the roots of the state, to significant historical events in U.S. history, Hawaii has a museum to cover it all. Here are the 10 best.

1. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Oahu, HI

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, selected as the Hawaii State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, is a museum of history and science in the history-rich Kalihi district of Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

2. Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, Oahu, HI

The Honolulu Museum of Art is the largest of its kind in the state, and was founded in 1922 by Anna Rice Cooke. This mission of this museum is to “bring together great art and people to create a more harmonious, adaptable, and enjoyable society in Hawaii.”

3. Shangri La Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, Honolulu, Oahu, HI

Shangri La is an Islamic-style mansion built by heiress Doris Duke just outside of Honolulu, Hawaii. The mansion is now both owned and operated by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

4. Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Oahu, HI

The site of the World War II bombings, Pearl Harbor is now home to many facets of history. The USS Arizona was a battleship built for and by the United States Navy in the mid-1910s. The ship and its crew was devastated on Dec. 7, 1941 during the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. Located on the famous Ford Island, sits the USS Missouri, another American battleship, and the third ship of the Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of Missouri, and Pacific Aviation Museum, a non-profit founded in 1999 to develop an aviation museum in Hawaii.

5. The Lyman House Memorial Museum, Hilo, Big Island, HI

The Lyman House Memorial Museum, or the Lyman Museum, is a Hilo, Hawaii-based museum of natural history founded in 1931 in the Lyman family mission house, which was originally built in 1838.

6. Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hilo, Big Island, HI

The Pacific Tsunami Museum is a museum in Hilo, Hawaii dedicated to the history of the April 1, 1946 Pacific tsunami and the May 23, 1960 Chilean tsunami which devastated much of the east coast of the Big Island, especially Hilo.

7. Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu, HI

The Polynesian Cultural Center is a Polynesian theme park and living museum located in Laie, on the northern shore of Oahu, Hawaii. At this center, Pacific island people “demonstrate their traditional arts and crafts and perform their lively songs and dances.” Get immersed in Polynesian culture at this fascinating living museum.

8. Hulihe'e Palace, Kailua-Kona, HI

The Huliheʻe Palace is located in Kailua-Kona, Hawaiii, on Ali'i Drive. What was once the vacation home of Hawaiian royalty, is now a museum run by the Daughters of Hawaii, displaying beautiful furniture and artifacts.

9. Byodo-In Temple, Kaneohe, Oahu, HI

The Byodo-In Temple is a non-denominational shrine situated on the island of Oahu at the Valley of the Temples. In August 1968, it honored the 100-year anniversary of the earliest Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

10. Queen Emma Summer Palace, Honolulu, Oahu, HI

Hānaiakamalama, also known as the Queen Emma Summer Palace, was as a retreat for Queen Emma of Hawaii from 1857 to 1885, as well as for her husband King Kamehameha IV, and their son Prince Albert Edward. Today, the palace stands as a historic landmark, museum, and tourist site.

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