Has museum forgotten pre-contact culture?

To the Forum:

Recently I had

occasion to visit Kaua’i Museum with a close friend who is of Hawaiian

heritage. After making our way through all the exhibits we exited the museum


We paused on the steps of the museum and my friend asked me what

I thought about the exhibits. I told my friend that I was saddened. With the

exception of some calabashes, poi pounders and mats, the displays were all

post-contact oriented.

Most displays were of western acquisitions of

“haoles” in the form of china service, furniture and dress. There

was a disparagingly small amount of information on pre-contact Hawaiian culture

and history.

The entire second floor of the museum, with the exception of

one corner of paintings for sale by modern artists, contains oriental

artifacts. Granted, these things are part of the modern history of the island

of Kaua’i, but where is the true history and culture of Kaua’i’s people?

Has foreign contact so obscured Kaua’i’s history that there isn’t enough to

display in the museum or has the museum’s board decided that post-contact

history and development are more important to display to the public?


is a very sad commentary and an insult to Native Hawaiians and, specifically,


Sherry C. Davis



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