The servicemen of Pearl Harbor's naval base were taking some much-needed R&R between early-morning repairs inside Hangar 37 when suddenly they heard a buzzing overhead. With the humming of their own planes and battleships periodically filling the air, this rapidly approaching sound wasn't foreign to their ears, but this instance proved to be drastically different. Thunderous explosions soon overtook Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona struggled to stay afloat as the Imperial Japanese Navy delivered a surprise military strike, which resulted in one of the most devastating attacks on American soil. With a mission to preserve the history of this tragic event, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor opened that very same hangar to the public, hundreds of feet from where ships burned and men courageously fought more than 70 years ago.
Hangar 37's 42,000-square-foot space currently houses many of the museum's artifacts, which include a World War II?era B-25B bomber, Japanese Zero, and naval planes such as the SBD Dauntless. Also open to the public, Hangar 79 displays the actual bullet holes that pierced its windows during the attack, while an authentic WWII maintenance shop contains an exhibit that explains how planes ran on Lucky Strike cigarette materials. Visitors can experience the museum's ever-evolving collection of exhibits??which has included segments dedicated to the Korean War's MiG Alley and the Flying Tigers??through guided tours in both hangars and submerse themselves in the virtual world of the museum's combat flight simulator.
Named a great place for a first date by Honolulu Weekly, The Contemporary Museum provides lover-candidates with plenty of conversational topics as they wander an assortment of accessible, provocative art. Education programs and exhibitions, such as the Contemporary Museum Biennial of Hawaii Artists exhibition, give freshly hatched masterpieces a chance to rub frames with the permanent collection of classics by Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and more. The museum's emphasis on works created in Hawaii also makes it easy to meet the archipelago’s homegrown talent, who are often on-hand to answer puzzled stares and challenge you to aesthetically pleasing arm-wrestles.
The 800 teddy bears at Teddy Bear World Hawaii might appear to be alive, but they're actually animatronic. The museum packs its 20,000 square feet with colorful scenes of the bears reenacting famous scenes from history, such as the first space shuttle launch, the construction of Mount Rushmore, and the day stuffed animals gained the right to vote. Complementing the historical exhibits are famous works of art reinterpreted to include bears, a dinosaur-themed exhibit, and the Save The Planet section that details how global warming may affect the planet's future. The building also houses a fully animated Elvis show, where a teddy bear version of the king performs a song-and-dance routine rivaled only by Elvis's short stint as a basketball mascot.
The story of the Ionali Palace is rich in drama and makes many historical novels look tame. After the original palace was razed because of severe termite damage, the second Ionali Palace that stands today was completed in 1882. Only King Kalākaua and Queen Lili’uokalani governed from the palace. The monarchy was overthrown in 1893 and by 1898 the U.S. flag flew over the palace. The only royal palace now part of the United States, it has been painstakingly restored and is located in downtown Honolulu. The palace is open Monday – Saturday (closed Sunday). There are two tour options – a docent-led tour and a guided audio tour which are 60 – 90 in length. Reservations are required and ticket purchase must be made at the Iolani Barracks.
The US Army Museum of Hawaii sheds light on one of the most unique facets of life on this island paradise, the historical role of the US armed forces there. The museum has life like exhibits that suck you into an epic story of valor, bravery, and sacrifice, featuring everything from helicopters, to tanks, to the vacant bunkers that are a relic of the museum’s past as a military base. There are exhibits focusing on the heroic and often overlooked role of Japanese Americans during the Second World War and the Vietnam War. There are others, specifically dedicated to the tragedy of Pearl Harbor. In addition to these modern exhibits, the museum also has a portion dedicated to ancient warfare in Hawaii.
Learn more about the day that still lives in infamy. Located at Pearl Harbor, and part of the National Park Service, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument offers a look back into WWII. Hear stories about the attack, the overall battle in the Pacific, Japanese American internment and the victory over Japan. At times, you’ll even find survivors of Pearl Harbor who volunteer and share their tales about December 7th in 1941. You can also visit the USS Arizona museum that floats above the actual sunken battleship or step aboard the USS Bowfin submarine. Before you leave you can test your knowledge and maybe even learn something you didn’t know before about the greatest generation.