One of the more pleasant surprises we have experienced in the past year and a half of documenting our museum accessions is that we have several thousand items more than originally estimated, especially in the photographs collection. In the B.C. (Before Computer) manual inventory system the museum had accessions which included collections with many items not fully described or documented on a paper trail. As these gifts and loaned items are inventoried, many need a more technical description in addition to the information provided by the donor. In the case of photographs, we sometimes make circulation copies to query our Kupunas for names and relationships of persons not readily identified in the photographs.
Additional work still needing to be accomplished is the Hawaiian language translation of our artifact inventory. For example, of the 27 tapa beaters (I`e Kuku) we have in the museum collection, only four have a description of the actual design cut into the beater, and none are identified by the accepted Hawaiian nomenclature used by authorities in Hawaiian antiquities. We are anticipating extensive research for this type of interpretation in 1995 and 1996.
Another challenge of our Collections Management Program is consistency of object names. For this we have to rely on the Bishop Museum as a Pacific Basin authority since most of the published standard nomenclature used in museum collections have their roots in early European and American culture.
Although numbers rarely portray the history, the following is a statistical taste of the rich diversity embodied by our museum collection: Artifact count at 561 which includes 87 Adz (and Adz pieces), 43 Poi Pounders, 27 Tapa Beaters, and one "Olona net, mended with synthetic cord, dyed with Kukui bark, 90 to 100 years old" with its origins in Kipahulu. The Book count is at 611 with 82 on Hawaiian history, 36 biographies, 26 on Oceania, 22 on Hawaiian folk art, 19 on Hawaiian mythology and one on the communist party. The Photograph count is approaching 5000 with a lot of descriptions still to be documented. Several thousand are in the "people of Hana" category, several hundred of the 120 year old Hana Courthouse and its restoration, over one hundred of the old mills of the district and 13 of the great tidal wave of 1946. The Bottle count is at 684 with 20 dating into the 1879 and over 30 from Japan dating from 1912.
When we began this museum inventory process, we acquired a small Macintosh computer that was projected to be adequate for at least five years. Now that almost 7000 artifacts (with more still to come) are entered, combined with our twenty years of donor history, and an active gift shop inventory of almost 350 items, we are at about 70% capacity of our little machine and are hoping to upgrade our equipment next year.
A future project still under definition is the desire to convert our museum catalog to a CD-ROM so that schools, other historical organizations, and even individuals at home can take an educational tour of the museum at their desktop.
(If you have artifacts, photographs or other collections relating to the early and not so early life of the Hana district, please consider loaning or donating your historical treasures to the Hana Cultural Center and Museum. We have a "state of the art" facility to preserve such artifacts for future generations.)