Hawai‘i Wildlife Discovery Center Now Open at Whalers Village
The 5,000 square foot Hawaiʻi Wildlife Discovery Center at Whalers Village in Kāʻanapali is now open.
The Discovery Center is made possible under a collaboration between the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund, NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Brookfield Properties.
“We have long needed a place that helps our visitors better understand how to respect native wildlife, while simultaneously gaining a deeper appreciation for the islands. We depend on partnerships like the one we’re sharing with Whalers Village and the Whale Sanctuary to succeed in our conservation efforts, and I couldn’t be more excited about this wonderful place we’ve co-created,” said HWF Executive Director, Hannah Bernard.
The Hawai‘i Wildlife Discovery Center has more than 30 exhibits about Hawaiʻi’s undersea life, whaling era, cultural values, and conservation work with contributions from several partners, including the nonprofit Will Smith Foundation that sponsored the Immersive Experience, one of the highlights of the Discovery Center. The six-minute video is screened on three walls with only the sounds from ocean animals and waves rushing to shore.
Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN, known for its success with experiential learning and innovative, hands-on technology, curated the multimedia storytelling tools in an adjoining room which are played on an 82-inch screen using an interactive kiosk. There are 45 locally produced, Maui-focused videos with topics ranging from “Voice of the Sea” to “Kumukahi: Stories of Living Hawaiian Culture” and “What Does it Take to Disentangle a Whale?”
“The Discovery Center’s goals and approaches are well-aligned with the Sanctuary’s mission. We are thrilled to work together in this new space,” said HIHWNMS Regional Manager, Allen Tom.
Among the many featured artists and photographers at HWDC are cousins Kahi and Patrick Ching, who created spectacular murals on display outside and inside the Center, and a number of local artists who specialize in utilizing marine debris and beach-cast plastics in a variety of 3-D and video displays.
Marine debris is a focal point of HWDC and the Kids Zone is a place where keiki (children) can use pieces of debris to create art and learn about how plastic and other types of pollution directly affect local wildlife and habitats.
“We are honored to play host to this one-of-a-kind tenant, bringing more than just retail offerings to our shoppers. Our customers, many of whom are visitors, are looking for the complete Hawaiian experience and HWDC provides that,” said Whalers Village General Manager, Melissa Aguilar-Craft.
The HWDC Shop, owned and operated by Sea Maui, features logo wear, jewelry, photos, paintings, prints, books, children’s coloring books and more. Many of the products are from the artists and photographers also displayed in the Center. There are also sustainable products offered with an emphasis on being locally-sourced in Hawaiʻi.
A portion of the proceeds from gift-shop sales and entry fees into the Discovery Center will fund conservation work of Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund, new exhibits, and special displays. The space will also allow HIHWNMS to offer education and outreach programs on the west side of Maui, as well as a place for volunteer opportunities and community gatherings.