VOG “Tasting Party” at the Lyman Museum

As Kīlauea’s current eruption continues to produce enough lava to fill a football stadium every week or so, it also releases huge amounts of volcanic gases, which are converted in the atmosphere to the vog (volcanic smog) that impacts our island environment.

Photo courtesy of Andrew J. Sutton showing volcanic gases boil out of the lava lake within Kilauea’s summit     “Overlook Vent,” to form the visible vog plume being carried to the southwest and up the Kona coast by trade winds in this 2008 USGS-HVO photograph.

Photo courtesy of Andrew J. Sutton showing volcanic gases boil out of the lava lake within Kilauea’s summit
“Overlook Vent,” to form the visible vog plume being carried to the southwest and up the Kona coast by trade winds in this 2008 USGS-HVO photograph.

On Monday, January 18, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Lyman Museum, Jeff Sutton, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory gas geochemist, tells us everything we always wanted to know about volcanic gases, vog, and how they affect people, land, and our island infrastructure. Jeff will also host a “volcanic gas tasting party” at which you can identify specific volcanic gases using your sense of smell!

The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum showcases the natural and cultural history of Hawai`i. Located in historic downtown Hilo at 276 Haili Street, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Admission to this program is free to Museum members, $3 for nonmembers. For additional information, call (808) 935-5021 or visit www.lymanmuseum.org.

Fred Koehnen Memoir Published – Lyman Museum Event to Honor Him

Fred J. Koehnen, Hawaii Island-born community and business leader, has had more than 90 years of action-packed experiences—but his unerring compass has always returned him to Hilo.

Fred J. Koehnen

Fred J. Koehnen

Koehnen’s just-published memoir, Been There Done That Back to Hilo, tells the story of his nine-decade odyssey. He’s hunted, fished, ridden, wrangled cattle, hiked, golfed and swum in every quarter of Hawai‘i Island.  In business, government and community service, he has diligently done what was needed, leaving a lasting mark.

Koehnen, 91, will be honored at a dinner sponsored by the Lyman Museum Sunday, Sept. 27 at Nani Mau Gardens.  A long-time member of the museum board, he is donating the proceeds from his memoir to the museum.

“Lyman Museum is a great repository of history, particularly of Hawaii Island, so it’s fitting that Fred’s book becomes part of the museum’s legacy,” said Richard Henderson, chairman of the Lyman board.

Tucked in the pages are historical tales and images of Hawaii Island from before World War II through statehood, the rise and fall of King Sugar, and the transformation of East Hawaii in response to devastating tsunamis.

As a boy, this son of German immigrants to Hilo saw glory and disgrace in the 1936 Olympics and Hitler’s pre-war Germany. He awoke at the University of Hawaii-Manoa on December 7, 1941 to Pearl Harbor’s bombing. Active in two wars—World War II and Vietnam—he was in active or reserve service for 32 years.  He’s traveled the world, read the important books and does complicated accounting in his head.

Many recognize the Koehnen name from F. Koehnen, Ltd., and the landmark Koehnen’s Building which housed a furniture and gifts store for decades.  The store was begun by Fred’s father, Friederich Koehnen, who came to Hilo in 1909 as an apprentice of sorts to the Hackfeld and Company trading firm.  Fred was born in 1924.

“We’re very pleased to be able to honor Fred and his contributions, both to our community and to the country,” said Barbara Moir, president and executive director of Lyman Museum.  “He’s been instrumental in building the museum’s base.  And as you’ll discover in his memoir, he’s also a heck of a writer!”

The book is available for $20 at the Museum’s gift shop. Tickets for the dinner honoring Koehnen are available by calling the museum at (808) 935-5021 ext. 104 or ext. 102.  Deadline is Sept. 19.

The dinner program will include an interview with Koehnen and a report on the museum’s plans for the immediate future.


What Lies Beneath the Lyman Mission House

Anyone who has taken a guided tour of the Lyman Mission House knows that, prior to the 1930s, the House was actually situated directly over present-day Haili Street and the adjacent House lawn.  But did you know that when it was built in 1839, the House had a cellar similar to those Sarah and David Lyman remembered from their childhood homes in New England?

Such cellars, typically a feature of mission homes in Hawai`i, did not transfer well to rainy climates and porous soils and often fell into disuse.  But what might the Lymans’ buried cellar tell us today about how they lived in the mid 1800s?

Courtesy of Lyman Museum

Courtesy of Lyman Museum

On Monday evening, March 9, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Lynne Wolforth, of UH-Hilo’s Department of Anthropology, describes two limited public archaeology projects carried out in the 1990s to identify the location of the Mission House cellar and to recover and analyze historic artifacts from that site—work in which UH-Hilo students were active, hands-on learners.  Doors open at 6:30 pm, additional parking is available in the Hilo Union School parking lot.  Cost is $3 and free to Lyman Museum members.

The Hilo Drug Company: A Pharmacy in the Midst of Changing Federal Legislation

In a 2013 program at the Lyman Museum, Mimi Pezzuto of UH-Hilo’s College of Pharmacy addressed the question: “What can we learn about the life of a community by looking at lists of names, dates, and pharmaceutical ingredients?”

Hilo Drug Co., Ltd. near left and American Factors across street. Hawaii State Archives - Date: ca. 1928

Hilo Drug Co., Ltd. near left and American Factors across street. Hawaii State Archives – Date: ca. 1928

Her presentation of the contents of weighty prescription logs from the now-defunct Hilo Drug Company illustrated some of the afflictions suffered by residents of old Hilo town in the years 1894 to 1945, and the substances and practices used to treat them.

On February 23, 2015 once again at the Lyman Museum in Hilo, Mimi is joined by archivist Helen Wong Smith to discuss the differences between Hawai`i and the United States, in the legislation and medical practices of that era, including opium prescriptions and the licensing of kāhuna.

Courtesy of the Lyman Museum

Courtesy of the Lyman Museum

Prescription logs and other local pharmacy ephemera will be available for viewing!

Ni’ihau ‘Alilea Shell Workshops at Lyman Museum

For the very first time ever, men (and women too!) will have the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind Ni’ihau shell lei that traditionally is made and worn by men for very special occasions such as a wedding, or a hula hālau performance.

Lei created from 'alilea shells.

Lei created from ‘alilea shells.

At the Lyman Museum, Kele Kanahele of the Island of Ni’ihau will teach the authentic creation of these rarely seen pieces of Ni’ihau heritage for the first time anywhere, twice in August on Friday, August 15 and Saturday, August 16, from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

On either day you may learn how to make an18-inch necklace/lei ($380 for Museum members, $410 for nonmembers), or a pair of earrings for ladies ($105 for members, $130 for nonmembers)—or more than one piece, as long as you sign up for specific pieces in advance.  All pieces will be created in the pikake style, using ‘alilea ke’oke ‘o shells (white).  The ‘alilea is known as the large dove shell because it closely resembles but is slightly larger (about ¾ inch long) than the better-known momi or dove shell.  Such lei are rarely made because piercing is very difficult due to the thickness of the shell.  For the earrings, much smaller shells will be used to create pieces appropriate for ladies.

Space is limited to 24 persons per day; only people who have registered can be permitted in the classroom.  Reservations must be made, pieces specified, and the workshop fee(s) paid by Friday, August 8, to ensure your place and the availability of shells.  Space is limited to 24 persons per day; only people who have registered can be permitted in the classroom.

Kane, follow in the footsteps of generations of Ni’ihau men by creating and wearing this classic lei on important occasions of your own!  And wahine, these pieces will look just as lovely on you … or you can give your special someone a treasure of Hawai’i that shows everyone he’s a treasure too!  For more information or to register, please call 935-5021 or stop by the Museum’s Admissions desk.  The Lyman Museum is located at 276 Haili St in Hilo and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 4:30 pm.

Lizard Talk at Lyman Museum

Among the many immigrants to reach Hawaiian shores are certain members of the reptilian Order Squamata (which includes lizards and snakes).  A variety of lizards have arrived with people through the years and made their homes in Hawai`i.  In addition to the several species of geckos which most of us here know well, and which have been in the Islands the longest, there are species of skinks, anoles, iguanas, and chameleons that have also established themselves as colonists.

My dog freaking out on a Jackson Chameleon

My dog freaking out on a Jackson Chameleon

On Monday, August 25, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Lyman Museum, Dr. William Mautz pulls back the foliage to look at these special creatures: their habits and habitats, how and when they came to Hawai`i, and prospects for a future in which other immigrant lizards may gain a toehold.  Dr. Mautz is a professor of biology at UH-Hilo, where he teaches and conducts research on the physiology and ecology of amphibians and reptiles.

The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum showcases the natural and cultural history of Hawai`i.  Located in historic downtown Hilo at 276 Haili Street, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  For more information, call (808) 935-5021 or visit www.lymanmuseum.org.

Lyman Museum Participates in Blue Star Museums

The Lyman Museum is one of the more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to military personnel and their families this summer in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense.

The Lyman Museum

The Lyman Museum

The nation’s active duty military personnel, including the National Guard and Reserve, and their families, can visit the Lyman Museum for free from Memorial Day, May 26, through Labor Day, September 1, 2014.

The Blue Star Museums program provides military families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and learn more about their community.

“We’re really excited to be participating again in Blue Star Museums,” said Rachel Pierson, Membership and Development Associate for the Lyman Museum.  “It’s a privilege to offer free admission to members of the military and their families and it’s a great opportunity for them to learn more about the local community and the resources it holds.  The Lyman Museum really has something for everyone.  We’ve got science, culture, and history exhibits as well as guided tours of the historic Lyman Mission House.”

This year, more than 2,000 museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa are taking part in the initiative.  The complete list of participating museums is available at arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums.

The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173‐1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. military ‐ Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps ‐ and up to five family members.

Lyman Museum Receives Grant Towards New Island Heritage Gallery

In the recent session, the Hawai`i State Legislature approved $500,000 in State Grant-in-Aid funding toward the Lyman Museum’s planned new Island Heritage Gallery exhibit.

The Lyman Museum

The Lyman Museum

“My fellow legislators recognized that this gallery space and exhibit will provide a continuing resource to showcase our vibrant history, for visitors, but especially for Hawaii’s keiki,” said Senator Gil Kahele, who was instrumental in securing the funds.  “This was truly a collective effort on behalf of the entire Hawaii Island delegation.”

Located on the second floor of the Museum in a 3,600 sq. ft. area, the new $2 million exhibit will explore a historical timeline of the many people, cultures, events, and ideas that left their mark on Hawaii Island and contributed to the rich, diverse mosaic of modern Hawaii.  The Island Heritage Gallery will make history come alive for visitors by exhibiting artifacts and telling stories in themed settings that recreate the look and feel of different eras.

“Our heartfelt thanks go to our East Hawai`i legislators, Senator Kahele and Representatives Mark Nakashima, Clift Tsuji, and Richard Onishi, for this generous appropriation that enables us to move closer toward establishing the Island Heritage Gallery exhibit.  People call the Museum ‘a true gem of Hilo,’ and the new gallery will be a jewel in the crown for everyone to enjoy,” emphasized Lyman Museum President and Executive Director Barbara Moir.

The new Island Heritage Gallery is the final phase of a 15-year journey to enhance the Museum’s position as a world-class learning facility and treasured resource for future generations.  For more than 80 years, the Lyman Museum has fulfilled its mission to “tell the story of Hawai`i, its islands and its people,” and continuously strives to make the visitor experience exciting and educational.

A repository of local history, the Lyman Museum currently houses a superb collection of cultural artifacts, fine art, and natural history exhibits, as well as special exhibitions and an archives, which includes historical documents, books, and more than 30,000 photographs.  Visitors can tour the beautifully restored old Mission House and learn about Hilo life as it was 150 years ago.  The Earth Heritage Gallery showcases the Museum’s world-class shell and mineral collections as well as geology and habitat exhibits in stunning settings.  The new Island Heritage Gallery exhibit will complete the visitor’s experience by providing a rare and well-rounded view of the real Hawai`i, as it was, as it is today, and where it may be in years to come.

Lyman Museum Begins “Going Green” Big Island Agriculture Excursions

“Going green,” with an eye toward self-sufficiency, is a goal shared by an increasing number of Big Island residents.  Our island now produces only 10-15 % of the food we eat, which means we must rely on vulnerable transportation systems, with the ever-present threat of being only a few days away from empty grocery store shelves.  But there is more—much more—to cultivation than mere food production … there is also beauty, savoring, human history and culture, and healing.

Beginning in February 2012, the Lyman Museum will offer a unique exploration of the Big Island’s agricultural potential through a five-part series of educational excursions.

Using the image of “The Garden,” these excursions will take us to a number of research and producing farms.  We’ll learn about water, land, and power resources; hear specialists in food production, transportation, and marketing; hear pros and cons of genetically modified food production; consider the cultural aspects of food that shape our diets; and enjoy the sensory experiences our gardens provide.

Join us for one or more of these exceptional learning experiences:

  • Saturday, February 4:  The Garden as Provider I
  • Saturday, March 17:    The Garden as Provider II
  • Saturday, April 14:      The Garden as Teacher
  • Saturday, May 19:       The Garden as Healer
  • Saturday, June 16:       The Garden as Paradise

Kaika, a farmer at Dragon's Eye Farm in Kapoho

Among other activities, we’ll visit an apiary, a coffee and tea plantation, an experimental farm, hydroponic gardens, a self-sufficient home, a Zen garden, an exotic products garden, a bonsai garden, and a palm garden.  We’ll learn from experts about the “locavore” movement, about ethnogastronomy, and about perception of taste and scent.

Dr. Judith Kirkendall and Leslie Lang will lead the excursions.  Kirkendall is an anthropologist who specializes in the anthropology of food.  Lang, author of Exploring Historic Hilo and co-author of Mauna Kea, has a master’s degree in cultural anthropology with a focus on Hawai`i and the Pacific region.

Each excursion will begin at 8:30AM and end at about 3:00PM, with chauffeured transportation, free entry to featured activities, and product sampling opportunities.  Lunch will be provided, and all tickets include same-day admission to the Lyman Museum upon return.  Cost is $75 per excursion ($65 for Lyman Museum members).  To register, please call the Museum at 935-5021.