The Lyman Museum began as the Lyman Mission House, originally built for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman in 1839. Nearly 100 eventful years later, in 1931, the Museum was established by their descendents. Today, the restored Mission House is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and may be visited by guided tour.
The Lyman Museum building, next door to the Mission House, houses a superb collection of artifacts, fine art, and natural history exhibits as well as an archives, special exhibitions and a gift shop.
Visitors touring the two facilities can see the old Mission House and life as it was 150 years ago, as well as state-of-the-art exhibits on many aspects of Hawaiian natural history and culture…a rare and well-rounded view of the real Hawai`i, as it was, as it is today, and where it may be in years to come.
The Lyman Museum Archives is open by appointment only. The archives includes historical documents, books, and photographic collections.
Island Heritage Gallery
In the Island Heritage Gallery you will see examples of the way the Hawaiian people lived, including their tools and implements for fishing and hunting which were made from materials they had at hand (no metal!).
The Museum has many examples of the fish nets and hooks they used, as well as basketry, wood bowls, poi pounders and a wood and cord framework for the typical grass-covered hale they lived in.
See samples of the kapa cloth made from pounded tree bark from which they fashioned their clothing, as well as adornments made from bone, feathers, and other natural materials. You will learn about the system of Hawaiian ali`i (royalty), their games and their famous kings and queens.
Further on through the gallery, you will learn about the five major immigrant groups that came to Hawai`i in the late 19th century to work in the newly formed sugar industry, a system of plantations and mills that shaped the character and the land of modern Hawai`i. The Island Heritage Gallery tells the story of the native Hawaiians and the immigrants who have created the unique society of Hawai`i today.
Lyman Mission House
In 1832, missionaries David and Sarah Lyman traveled by ship from New England to Hawai`i. They had been married for all of 24 days before leaving on the six-month voyage.In the late 1830s they built the Lyman House as a family home. The Hilo Boarding School, a school for young Hawaiian men founded by the Lymans, was built nearby.
Over the years, the house became a place to raise their seven children and host guests, including many of the Hawaiian ali`i (royalty) and other notables such as Mark Twain and Isabella Bird.The Lymans never returned to their native New England, but lived out their long lives in Hilo.
The Lyman Mission House is the oldest standing wood structure on the Island of Hawai`i and one of the oldest in the State.It features furniture, tools, household items and artifacts used by the Lymans and other early missionary families.The house is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and is an important artifact of the Lyman Museum.
Your docent-guided tour of the Mission House will convey a sense of what it meant to live 5000 miles and a 6-month journey away from your original home and family in a house without electricity or running water. You will learn what it was like to settle in a location with a decidedly different language and culture from your own, while being driven by a sense of duty to bring Christianity and Western-style education to the Hawaiian people.
The Mission House is open to the public by guided tour only. Hours: 11 am and 2 pm, Monday - Saturday.
Tour times subject to change without notice.