Renovated and renamed: Pacific Hall

To house Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop’s collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal heirlooms, Bishop Museum’s 128-year-old Hawaiian Hall Complex was built in three phases: Pauahi Hall (main entry and Long Gallery, opened 1891), followed by Polynesian Hall (1894) and Hawaiian Hall (1903). The first two Richardsonian Romanesque-style buildings were the earliest cut basalt stone structures built in Hawai’i.

Polynesian Hall was renamed Pacific Hall after this renovation to better reflect the focus of its exhibits. A 1950’s modernization saw the drop of the vaulted ceiling, covering up and/or removing railings under rail cases, removing all koa exhibit cases, white-washing koa columns and beams and painting natural finish ceilings white.

  • Pauahi Hall’s main entry was restored by removing a large chandelier added in the 20th century, and repairing and restoring the original plaster and koa woodwork; the paint scheme was determined by examining paint chips and then recreated.
  • Railings and improved lighting were unobtrusively added and a new display rail was designed for the upper landing.
  • Pacific Hall’s new central stair and fire exit satisfied fire egress requirements. The central stair concept allowed restoration of most of the mezzanine railings and rail cases, while preserving the proportion of the space.
  • Koa display cases were reconstructed based on historic photos and installed in original locations, while rail cases and balusters were restored.
  • Since light levels could be higher in Long Gallery’s exhibit spaces, windows were preserved and restored, and a filtered glazing added.
  • A new ceiling, in natural colors to recall the original finish, incorporated light and partition tracks and was used to conceal the new air conditioning system (previously air conditioned with window units).

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AWARDS:
  • Historic Preservation Honor Award from the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation, 2014

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Photography: Linny Morris

The new central stair case and wood inlaid floor map in Pacific Hall illustrating the Polynesian Islands and surrounding area in the Pacific Ocean region.