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New museum will explore life in the Plantation Era

By Staff | Feb 4, 2010

Mike Jones adjusts a kerosene stove in the Plantation Museum exhibit.

LAHAINA — A new Lahaina museum will celebrate the lives and times of West Maui’s Plantation Era.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation will open the Plantation Museum with a blessing at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, on the theater level of The Wharf Cinema Center. The community is invited to attend, and a reception will follow.

The new museum will feature artifacts and photos from both pineapple and sugar plantation life.

“Visitors to the museum should come away with an understanding of what plantation life was like. We didn’t want it to be too much about the industry side, but more what daily life was like for the people working and living in this era,” explained Andy Kutsunai, chair of the foundation’s Community Education Committee.

The Wharf Cinema Center donated the 650-square-foot space for the museum, and Mike Jones designed the displays.

“Pioneer Mill and the days of the plantations are very much a part of Lahaina’s history. To be able to visually tell the story of plantation life, and to have the artifacts on display, is a welcome addition to this town. The Wharf Cinema Center is happy to make the space available and proud to be able to house the exhibit,” said Wharf General Manager Donna Soares.

Volunteers Irene and Barry McPhee assisted Jones in the build out of the museum and have been invaluable to the timely completion of the exhibits.

Kutsunai, along with committee members Bob Kawaguchi, Richard “Noosh” Nishihara, Louisa Shelton and Karee Carlucci, gathered artifacts, cleaned tools and completed the research. The majority of items were donated by the West Maui community.

Museum hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission is free.

“It has been our long-term goal to create a space that would preserve and house artifacts used in the plantation era,” stated Kutsunai.

“This is only a beginning. We hope to have a full-scale museum in the future.”

For more information on the nonprofit foundation, visit www.lahainarestoration.org or call 661-3262.