Updated: October 6, 2022
The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum will receive $17.5 million in funding from the State of Hawaiʻi for the coming year, including $7.5 million for operations, and $10 million for capital improvement projects.
The nonprofit reports the funding will be instrumental in supporting the Museum’s core function as the Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History: to secure irreplaceable collections and associated data, which serve dozens of state agencies, departments, and affiliated organizations, as well as the community and public at large.
“We are enormously grateful to the State of Hawaiʻi for recognizing the essential work that we do. This is the first time in over a generation that funding is commensurate with the core function that’s performed by the State Museum,” said Melanie Ide, Bishop Museum president and CEO. “It’s not a very well known fact that Bishop Museum has the ‘forever job’ of stewarding over half of the world’s primary source material of Hawai’i and the Pacific.”
According to the organization, the restoration of operational funding will help Bishop Museum protect, care for, and make accessible more than 22 million biological specimens, over two million cultural objects, 115,000 historical publications, and one million photographs, films, works of art, audio recordings, and manuscripts.
In addition to protecting and preserving physical collections in perpetuity, Bishop Museum is responsible for securing digital collections, which include digital material as well as data associated with the physical collections, all of which are held in the public’s trust.
“These collections are critical resources for the work of many local and international organizations and individuals who are seeking to preserve and perpetuate the natural and cultural heritage of Hawai’i and the Pacific,” Ide said. “We are very appreciative of this support and look forward to providing an ongoing resource for our partners and constituents in Hawaiʻi and around the world.”
The $10 million in funding for capital improvements will be used to reduce risks from hazards and address long-standing, deferred maintenance across Bishop Museum’s 15-acre campus and buildings.
Protecting and preserving irreplaceable collections and data require facilities that have fire protection, HVAC stability, modern infrastructure, and security from all forms of infiltration, whether from cyber, human, animal, or natural forces.
Bishop Museum maintains buildings that are as old as 130 years, many of which lack proper building systems and suffer from infiltration.
Both front-of-house treasures such as Hawaiian Hall and back-of-house research and collections spaces have been at risk, according to the museum staff.
Having performed a full facilities condition assessment across the campus, Bishop Museum will proceed with addressing as many of the risks as possible with the distribution of capital improvement funding that has been dedicated for this purpose.