Behind the rather reserved walls of the Lyman House Memorial Museum is a fascinating collection of galleries that span the natural and cultural history of the islands. On the ground level there is an eye-popping mineral and seashell collection, recreations of the various natural habitats on the islands, and a tour through a simulated lava tube.
Upstairs the focus turns toward the cultural aspect of the islands. You can wander through displays featuring ancient Hawaiian weapons, tools, cookware, and games. Other showcases describe the care taken in creating the massive feather capes and leis used to adorn the Hawaiian royalty. Homage is also paid to the various other cultures, such as the Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese, and Koreans, that have shaped the ethnic makeup of the islands.
Next to the museum is the Lyman Mission House which was originally constructed in 1839 for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman. The Lymans raised their seven children within the walls of the mission house and lived out their final days in Hilo. The structure is the oldest on the island and contains many original antiques from the Lyman family. Tours are given by museum docents at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m. If you can spare the time, the museum is worth three or more hours of exploration. The hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $3 for students. 808-935-5021. www.lymanmuseum.org. The museum is located at 276 Haili Street at the corner of Kapiolani Street.