New Exhibit Educates Hawaii Visitors in Traditional Voyaging

An original acrylic painting on canvas by aboriginal artist Roslyn “Effie” Serico, gifted to the Hokulea crew in Australia in the summer of 2015. // Photo by Jesse W. Stephen/Bishop Museum

In June 2017, the double-hulled voyaging canoe Hokulea completed a three-year circumnavigation of the Earth, charting her course around the globe by observation of the wind, waves, sun and stars.

The navigators aboard were skilled in Polynesian non-instrument wayfinding—an ancient skill that was nearly lost until the practice was reawakened, reactivated, and re-envisioned by Hawaiian and Oceanic voyagers over the past five decades. 

To explore the art and science of traditional navigation and the extraordinary story behind its resurgence, preparations are now underway to unveil "Holo Moana: Generations of Voyaging," a collaborative exhibit between the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum and the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) in Honolulu that will be on display in the J. M. Long Gallery at Bishop Museum from Nov. 4 to June 24.


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As guests enter the exhibit, immersive technology will bring wayfinding to life for visitors of all ages. Guests will feel the various winds that propel voyaging canoes and learn their Hawaiian names in a simulator, or swipe through a touch-screen map detailing the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage of Hokulea. 

Each tap will reveal insights from specific legs of the trip, as well as profiles of the crew on board. 

The Story Dome, a mini-planetarium that uses full-dome projection, will cast celestial elements overhead while Nainoa Thompson, president of PVS, narrates. 

Two stories will feature first-hand accounts of pivotal moments that led up to Hokulea’s first voyage to Tahiti as well as the story of how in the 1990s Hawaii astronaut Lacy Veach convinced Thompson that Hokulea should travel around the world to raise awareness about malama (caring) for the honua (world).

“The Bishop Museum has been a key partner to PVS for more than 40 years, helping us to fulfill our mission to restore and perpetuate traditional voyaging in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific,” said Thompson in a written release. “We are grateful that the museum’s support continues with the Holo Moana exhibit, which will showcase not only the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, but also the voyaging legacy of our Polynesian ancestors.”


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