‘Imiloa Astronomy Center to celebrate 10th Anniversary with new Maunakea exhibit

A new Maunakea education exhibit will be a hub of information about the mountain.

Signage at 'Imiloa on rock wall with the building cone in background.

Donald Straney
Donald Straney

In his monthly column published today, Chancellor Don Straney shares information about a new exhibit planned this year at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

ʻImiloa will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in February 2016. Since opening its doors, the center has impacted hundreds of thousands of kamaʻāina and visitors alike. It is the state’s only bi-lingual informal science center showcasing the connections between cultural traditions and state-of-the-art exploration being conducted atop Maunakea.

As we move into the astronomy center’s second decade, we are making a concerted effort to build on the work to date, and expand the reach and impact on our local communities and the state. Most importantly, we will build on the work of honoring Maunakea by inspiringkeiki to continue the Hawaiian tradition of exploration and discovery through modern science and technology.

Central to this effort will be a new Maunakea education exhibit that will be a hub of information about the mountain.

Maunakea with low cloud cover.

In addition to the cultural significance and the science of astronomy of Maunakea, the exhibit will cover the natural resources (recordation, conservation, preservation), the legal and political history about the science reserve and its growth and management, and the role Maunakea plays in ongoing and evolving social movements in the Hawaiian community.

Despite there being a wealth of publically-available information on these and other aspects of the mountain, the sheer amount of information and the fact that it is spread over myriad archives and sources has paradoxically created a vacuum of public awareness. The hope is that this new exhibit at ‘Imiloa—the physical space along with virtual and web-based components—will be a means to disseminate research and documented insight to all stakeholders and the general public about the resources and complexities of Maunakea.

We see the exhibit as a growing and evolving timeline of information that includes source data and portals to documents, media, and key agencies that offer further insight and information. The timeline exhibit also will include new educational media pieces—oral histories, for example—but also information on current events and new issues, discoveries and activity.

The exhibit will be phased in over time with the end goal being a totally digital interactive exhibit, including a strong web presence for learners to continue engagement beyond their experience in the physical space at the astronomy center.

ʻImiloa will be launching the initial, two-dimensional display as part of its 10th anniversary celebration this year.

In addition to the physical exhibit and the digital information portal, ‘Imiloa also will be starting the ‘Imiākea Event Series, a monthly program focused on highlighting a particular aspect of Maunakea each month. These events will range from weeknight evening performances and intimate settings with guest speakers and presenters, to demonstrations and hands-on workshops with artists and kumu, to weekend all-day events with activities for keiki and the entire family.

In the spirit of ʻImiloa—the continual pursuit of knowledge—we embark on 2016 with a sense of excitement for what the future will reveal.

Happy New Year,

Don Straney

Share this story