“History” on display again: Hawaii Plantation Museum reopens

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The Hawaii Plantation Museum has reopened to visitors after closing last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteer Karl Eschbach helps owner Wayne Subica run the small museum in Papaikou. They wanted to wait for the reopening because the museum is full of a collection of antiques and visuals depicting life on the plantations.

“It hasn’t been very busy since reopening, but we’ve never had tons of people here at a time even before the pandemic,” Eschbach said. “Fortunately, we’ve had dates every day we’re open, and at least one person a day has a story they want to explore here.”

On Tuesday, Michael Rose from California visited the museum to see if he could learn more about the history of his grandparents and mother.

Rose’s grandparents left the Azores in Portugal to settle on the island of Hawaii to work on a sugar cane plantation, where her mother was born in 1915.

“I wanted to see what life was like here for my family and learn what they were doing every day,” Rose said. “It looks like I had the right timing, since the museum has just reopened.”

Eschbach gave Rose a tour of the Tools of the Plantation Age and answered any questions Rose had about the history of plantations.

Volunteers often take people on tours through the museum to help explain some of the objects in Subica’s huge collection.

“Everyone who works here is vaccinated, but we’ve gone from nine volunteers to around five,” Eschbach said. “We’re planning fewer guests, so it’s okay. We only need two volunteers at a time.

While Eschbach and Subica are excited to reopen the museum, they are monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases and the spread of the Delta variant.

“We hope Delta doesn’t force us to close again, but we’ll keep an eye on what happens,” Eschbach said.

The museum’s website encourages visitors to call ahead before visiting in case it is expected to close in the short term due to COVID-19.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

Email Kelsey Walling at [email protected]


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