Bishop Museum Receives $100,000 Award

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Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum has been awarded $100,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to support its project, Ka Makaiwa: Strengthening Digital Access for Native Hawaiian Futures.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency, will administer the grant through its Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services program. The Institute’s mission is to advance, support and empower America’s museums, libraries and related organizations, and is the primary source of federal support for the country’s libraries and museums.

Ka Makaiwa: Strengthening Digital Access for Native Hawaiian Futures, creates a model for Bishop Museum original exhibits to have a permanent presence online, extending the life and reach of an exhibit beyond its temporary physical existence on Bishop Museum’s campus in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Beginning with one of the Museum’s most compelling exhibitions in its 130-year history, (Re)Generations: Challenging Scientific Racism in Hawaiʻi, this project seeks to capture the exhibit for online audiences and permanent archiving through a high-quality, thoughtfully designed, and user-friendly online platform, and to use this platform as a model for the sharing of future Museum exhibits.

“Increasing and improving access to our cultural and natural sciences collections, particularly for Native Hawaiians and communities with ties to Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, is of great importance to Bishop Museum,” said Melissa Tulig, Bishop Museum director of informatics. “The importance of this has never been more evident than the recent months affected by COVID-19. It is our responsibility to develop and steward pathways to knowledge and knowledge accessibility through community engagement in well-researched and impactful ways, and we are very appreciative of the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the opportunity to pilot a project towards this effort.”


Currently, access to Bishop Museum’s collections is primarily limited to those who live on or have the ability to travel to the island of Oʻahu. In 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw an expansion in digital reach at the Museum, highlighting a desire for content to be accessible online. The development of this online exhibit platform provides the Museum a space to share the elements of the physical exhibit, and increase access for those who are unable to visit the Museum or who want to dive deeper into the subject matter.

The Ka Makaiwa: Strengthening Digital Access for Native Hawaiian Futures project will develop an online exhibit platform featuring (Re)Generations: Challenging Scientific Racism in Hawaiʻi, will center user experience and will be used as a model for future Bishop Museum online exhibits. In two years, the Museum plans to document and digitize all aspects of the (Re)Generations exhibit, as well as research and add primary resources that could not be included in the exhibit; develop a back-end framework that connects to its digitized collections; create a user interface that is seamless and aligns with Bishop Museum’s visual brand; and test the model with other exhibits.

“While Bishop Museum has experimented with virtual exhibit tours during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while we have experience with digitized collections, this is the first time a comprehensive effort of this scope will be realized,” said Tulig. “This project will be more than just an online collections portal, but also a storytelling platform that uses narration to explain the history and meaning behind our collections, providing a more imersive and meaningful experience.”



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