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MKAEC advisory panel formed; Kimura to oversee Hawaiian content

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Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Contact: George Jacob, (808) 933-3917

For Immediate Release

Larry Kimura

After some initial dormancy, the University of Hawai`i at Hilo's Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center (MKAEC) Project has begun moving forward on the planning, design and implementation efforts for creating a world-class interpretive center at a swift pace. The Center will be located on a 9.1-acre lot in the University's Research and Technology Park.

A team of researchers and interpretive planners commenced work on content development in November 2001, and UH Hilo Assistant Professor of Hawaiian Language Larry Kimura joined the project this month to oversee the development of Hawaiian content for the MKAEC.

"We need to know more about the Hawaiian sanctity and the sanctity of astronomy," Kimura said. "Those two have to come together so that they can be complimentary. The Center could be the starting point."

Kimura is co-founder and the first president of `Aha Punana Leo, and served several terms on the board of directors for the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program at Bishop Museum. He brings to MKAEC his professional background in Hawaiian cultural education as well as his ancestral ties to Mauna Kea.

Additionally, Kimura served as co-chair of the University of Hawai`i's Mauna Kea Advisory Committee for the New Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan, and sat on an ad hoc committee appointed by Senator Daniel Inouye in 1999 to assist in the establishment of a Hawaiian culture committee for the State of Hawai`i. Kimura also serves as a member of the Office of Mauna Kea Management's Hawaiian Committee, Kahu Ku Mauna.

To support the interpretive planning research efforts, MKAEC has established a Content Advisory Panel, which includes some of the world's finest astronomers and advocates of Hawaiian culture. Members of the
advisory panel, along with other members of the astronomy and Hawaiian communities, participated in a two-day workshop in November that served as an introduction to the interpretive planning process.

Project Director George Jacob emphasized the significance of interpretive planning.

"This workshop on working in a living tradition is, in fact, a prelude to this journey of creative thinking that will eventually shape the educational focus of the Center. Walt Whitman, in The Song of Myself, wrote: 'I am wide, I contain multitudes.' Our multitudes contain our many pasts, many presents and many futures. Understanding this collective self is in itself a journey that often seeks metaphors beyond the sterile story

"Interpretive planning is about research and identifying the archival props that will set a story afloat on a voyage that may influence many minds in times to come," Jacob added. "It is about weaving a theme into a compelling presentation that can relate to a cross section of audiences."

The $28 million exhibition and planetarium complex will serve as the premier interpretive center for the world's largest and finest collection of astronomical observatories, currently located on Mauna Kea, which are expanding humanity's understanding of the universe and the origin of life itself. The Center will also bring information about the cultural and natural history of Mauna Kea to students and the public. Once the 42,000- square-foot MKAEC facility opens in 2004, it will offer a multitude of outreach programs in conjunction with various UH Hilo departments and the observatories atop Mauna Kea.

UH Hilo Chancellor Dr. Rose Tseng feels that before the turn of the next decade, interpretive centers will transform themselves into dynamic providers of informal education. The MKAEC is sure to ride that crest as it prepares to attract local, regional, national and international audiences to the Big Island as it brings together members of the Hawaiian and astronomy communities to share a common future.

For additional information, please call 933-3324.

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