Lahaina Plantation Museum Reopens Today

Lahaina Plantation Museum. PC: Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

The Lahaina Plantation Museum reopens to the public today, Oct. 22 on the upper level of The Wharf, across from the iconic Banyan Tree in Lahaina. The new museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday through Friday. The museum will be closed on the weekends and major holidays.

Admission to the museum is free and donations are welcome.

Celebrating the lives and times of West Maui’s Plantation Era, the museum features artifacts and photos from both pineapple and sugar plantation life. The small museum tells the story of plantation workers from arrival on Maui, to life in the camps, at work and through World War II.

A vast and diverse collection of artifacts donated by community members fills the small space and a poignant video titled “The Last Harvest” expresses the sentiments of the community and the workers when the Pioneer Mill shut down completely on Labor Day, 1999.

“Visitors to the museum should come away with an understanding of what plantation life was like. We didn’t want it to be too much about the industry side, but more what daily life was like for the people working and living in this era”, explained Andy Kutsunai, former chairperson of The Foundation’s Community Education Committee.

The Wharf donated the 650 sq, foot space for the museum, and Mike Jones designed the displays. The deep sounds of a ship horn and noises of a busy dock can be faintly heard at the display of rattan suitcases and trunks which greets the visitor to the museum. Walking over to the plantation camp section, a bicycle bell rings and a screen door slams while digital camp maps with dwellings, stores, graveyards, “chicken fight” areas clearly marked appear on a screen.

“It has been our long term goal to create a space that would preserve and house artifacts used in the plantation era.” states Andy Kutsunai. “This is only a beginning. We hope to have a full scale museum in the future.”

Lahaina Restoration Foundation oversees, maintains, protects and restores the Lahaina Historic Districts which include six museums and numerous historic sites. As a significant place throughout Hawaii’s history, Lahaina’s unique character and sense of place are a blend of cultural themes and economic influences that have each left a physical remnant of their presence.

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