The Keepers Of Kaua‘i History

Chucky Boy Chock with a Grove Plantation train outside the museum in Lihue

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Kaua’i Museum looks to the past with a celebration and looks ahead to a revitalized future

In celebration of its golden anniversary, Kaua’i Museum is launching a campaign this month in hope of cultivating community pride in the historic institution and inspiring more residents to walk through its doors and embrace the island’s history.

“We’re going to step out of the box and do things a little differently than what’s been done in the past,” says Chucky Boy Chock regarding the museum’s expected interior and exterior makeover during the next few years.

To kick off the revitalization, buttons with the 50th anniversary theme, “We Are Kaua’i,” have already started popping up around town.

“It’s a beautiful way of taking pride in something,” says Chock, who came up with the phrase. “It speaks volumes.”

Moreover, prizes will be given away from Oct. 15 to Dec. 3 to those proudly donning the buttons.

“We want people to wear them – from the corporate people on down,” Chock says.

Even visitors or “those who adopt Kaua’i love them,” he adds.

In fact, the visitor industry plays a large role in supporting the museum, which is why they are “working hard to get more residents in the door,” says Kaua’i Museum executive director Jane Gray.

(from left) Kaua‘i Museum volunteer Jan Rasmussen, education and art outreach coordinator Lyah Kama-Drake, shop manager Leroy Lagmay, executive director Jane Gray and curator Christine Faye

So not only is a cultural food festival in preparation for mid-April, other big changes are in store for the nonprofit.

Residents and visitors can expect to experience new events, exhibits and see physical changes occurring within and without the historic Rice building.

A new gift shop and courtyard area, which could include live evening entertainment, may soon be in store for patrons within the next two years.

And in the big picture, says Gray, when the road between the museum and the historic county building closes as part of the plan to make Lihue more walker-friendly, it will create an easily accessible corridor, which will change the dynamics.

A minor face lift also is planned for the building as a part of “fine-tuning what’s here,” she says. “Keeping it old and rustic, but making sure it maintains the ambiance.”

According to Gray, another mission is to upgrade and use the existing space inside more efficiently, eventually showcasing everything people have donated throughout the many years in an aesthetically pleasing way so that it’s no longer hidden in the basement.

“Our culture, to me, identifies who we are and where we can go,” she says when asked what is the importance of having a place to preserve history. “We can head in to the journey of life by knowing where we come from, who we are today and the possibilities of tomorrow.”

Residents do not typically visit the museum unless they have to. It’s become a “place mainly for visitors and excursions,” says Chock, who was recruited by friends in May to help promote the Kaua’i establishment.

The mission is to restore ha’aheo (pride) in the island’s only museum that encompasses all of Kaua’i’s cultural heritage and history, including Hawaiiana prior to the arrival of Captain Cook.

The nonprofit is the “keeper of the flame” as far as the history of Kaua’i is concerned, says Chock, “from yesterday and beyond. “Things will come to life here.”

Kaua’i Museum currently offers four exhibits each year, Hawaiian quilt-making classes and Monday evening storytelling. In addition, Kaua’i residents can enjoy free admission to the museum the first Saturday of each month.

For more information, visit www.kauaimuseum.org or call 245-6931.

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