NHERC Heritage Center blessing and grand opening is Nov 16

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Date: Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center invites the public to the blessing ceremony and grand opening of its Heritage Center on Wednesday, November 16 at 10 am in Honoka‘a.

“NHERC first opened in 2006 and has continuously expanded. The NHERC Heritage Center is the third phase of construction for the Center,” said NHERC Director Farrah-Marie Gomes.

“The vision for the NHERC Heritage Center is to have an active educational facility that will foster pride and perpetuate the diverse heritage of Hamakua and North Hawai‘i while providing the community with a foundation to thrive in the future. The Heritage Center will also train students and community members in curatorial practices, museum exhibit development and heritage management,” she added.

The NHERC Heritage Center will also collect, research, interpret, celebrate and disseminate the history and heritage of Hamakua and North Hawai‘i and engage the community and its visitors by documenting the past and present to better understand and appreciate Hawai‘i’s diverse heritage.

“The Heritage Center is composed of three entities,” Gomes said. “One room is an archives and storage space with a public area for research. Since around 74% of the historic documents in our State are stored on O‘ahu and most archives with temperature and humidity control are in Hilo and Kona, we will meet the needs of North Hawai‘i to keep our cultural resources in our area to be easily accessible to the community. With the help of volunteers, we are starting to collect and catalog oral histories, photographs and documents pertaining to Hamakua and North Hawai‘i.”

The other two rooms house exhibit spaces. A permanent exhibit room focuses on ancient Hawaiian, plantation era and paniolo history of the Honoka‘a area. The other room is a changing exhibit room that will feature short-term exhibits of local interest. A Peace Corps exhibit in conjunction with the blessing of the Heritage Center will be featured on November 16 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps and honor the people who helped with the training program in Waipi‘o Valley.

“We also have numerous student-directed study and volunteer opportunities at the NHERC Heritage Center,” Gomes said. “Students may gain credits through the Anthropology Department learning about museum methods and heritage preservation. Volunteers are needed to catalog artifacts and documents and to help with exhibit installation and monitoring.”

For information on these opportunities, contact NHERC Heritage Center Coordinator Dr. Momi Naughton at 775-8890.

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