The holiday season has historically been a popular time for visitors to the Bishop Museum, since it is open every day except Christmas. Up until this year, visitors to the venerable institution could be counted on for about a third of its revenue. Today, after eight months without the usual barrage of tourists, Bishop Museum is planning ahead for 2021 and beyond.
Solid and steady is how Melanie Ide, president and CEO of BIshop Museum, characterizes the museum's current fiscal condition.
"We have been keeping our head down and our eyes forward and continuing our work. We've been really fortunate to do that," she said.
Individual donations, foundations, and state and federal support, including CARES funding, have closed the gap in visitor income so far, and at least through next year.
"I know that there's a concern for everybody looking into 2022. 2023. What is that going to look like? We are looking ahead, we have to."
"Digital programming is going to be more. We want to grow our remote memberships, things that are not dependent on return of visitors. That will make a big difference for us," she added.
Bishops Museum is a key repository for cultural and genetic material from across the Pacific. Museum scientists are partnering with the National Science Foundation, NOAA, State Fish and Wildlife and others on over two dozen active research projects that link the area.
"Much of the work is exploration, discovery and monitoring and tracing change over time. We also just got funding to pursue advanced robotic technology to look at deep sea exploration in coral reefs," Ide said.
Asked what links Pacific cultures? Ide points to ideas about relationship and sustainability, she said: "Especially with the world wide voyage of Hokule'a spreading the message of caring for our island Earth, we can take the lead in showing what it means to live sustainably on an island."
She adds: "Local food production, energy consumption, waste reduction, renewable energy production, all of those metrics, we're taking that very seriously and finding the ways to look at every aspect of what we do against those goals and hold ourselves accountable."
Operations at Bishop Museum run about $200,000 dollars a month, much of it goes to preserving the collections.
"In times like this when there's so much flux and so much disruption, it's when we have to really run forward. Look at new ways of doing things and try to make those positive changes."
Unlike museums across the country, Bishop Museum has not fired or furloughed any employees since the pandemic began. Ide, in fact, is looking to build capacity.
"We sit on top of so much content, we need to make that more accessible. We absolutely need armies of people helping to get the content digitized and made accessible, and usable."
In celebration of this Makahiki season, families can learn traditional Hawaiian sports and games on Bishop Museum's Great Lawn.