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Pearl Harbor Revisited

Pop-up exhibition and sale at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center depicts “a view from both sides.”

December 19, 2013
Susan Halas - Contributing Writer (wailukusue@gmail.com) , Maui Weekly

Cultural pop-ups have reached the Valley Isle. "Pop-ups," a popular expression for short-term or spontaneous happenings, are no longer just for food or musical events. Illustrating the point is a new exhibition and sale of vintage and collectible materials related to Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific, "Pearl Harbor Revisited: A View From Both Sides," which is now on display at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center in Kahului.

The show, organized by Bryant Neal and his business partner Richard "Buck" Mickelsen of the Story of Hawai'i Museum, brings together an exciting array of original documents, posters, maps, photos, books, artifacts and other vintage materials that illustrate the events set in motion by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

It also includes materials that document Hawai'i's own unique role in the war, including the activities of the 442nd Regiment and the 100th Battalion, as well as other seldom-seen material showing the attack and subsequent events from the Japanese perspective.

Article Photos

We Can Do It! Lora Sasaki, 83, of Wailuku strikes a Rosie the Riveter pose. Sasaki, who was in the sixth grade at Kaunoa School in December 1941, was an early visitor to the new pop-up exhibition at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center that includes a display of historical maps, photos and memorabilia related to Pearl Harbor and WWII.

"We want to show as much material as possible in its original form," said Neal, commenting that new material is still being added. He also noted that items too fragile or bulky to be displayed are on-hand in a separate case and can be viewed by request.

One of the most notable items on view is a very large Japanese "situation" map of the Pacific that dominates the back wall. The fragile document needed to be linen-backed in order to be displayed. It is complimented by multiple smaller pieces evoking the events of Dec. 7, as well as the progress of the war in the Pacific.

Many people, Neal said, are not aware that the Japanese air attack also extended to the Philippines, Wake Islands, Guam and Midway.

So far, he continued, the response has been very encouraging.

"We've had people who wandered in for just a quick look and have come back and brought their friends," Neal said. "I've gotten many positive comments from teachers, and also from parents who are home-schooling. It's also seems like we're getting a fair number of men interested in military history who are hanging out here while their wives make the rounds of mall shops."

Items offered for sale include original WWII materials, as well as many reproductions of maps and documents at affordable prices.

The rear section of the space is devoted to the Pearl Harbor and related materials. The front of the room features other periods of Hawaiian history, from the Polynesian migrations through statehood. These include a useful and detailed timeline of Hawai'i's history and illustrated panels showing views of the islands from the time of Captain Cook to the modern day. There are segments on the monarchy and its overthrow, as well as panels about notable people and events throughout the course of Hawaiian history.

Particularly eye-catching is a complete copy of the 1943 art book, "Drawings and Etchings of Hawaiians," by noted artist John Melville Kelly. These vintage pre-war images are seldom seen in their original format, as the book has often been broken and the pages framed individually.

Many of the items on view can be purchased in giclee reproductions in a variety of sizes. Neal said current bestsellers include the 1887 Alexander Survey map of Maui, and a very detailed WWII map of the Pacific theater. A great many other images are also available

Smaller historically themed gift items in paper, wood, stone and other media are also on view and offered for sale.

Neal encouraged those affiliated with groups with historical or cultural roots in Hawai'i to drop by and find out how various reproduction processes can be used to make memorable and unique items that can bring local history to a wider popular audience and also be used for fundraising purposes. His company is one of the island's leading resources for giclee production. There is no charge for consultation on projects of this kind, he said.

The show is presented in cooperation with the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. It is located in the approximately 2,000-square-foot storefront at the Macy's end of the mall next to Details Boutique. The free exhibit is open to the public seven days a week during regular mall hours; it runs through the end of January. Voluntary donations are accepted.

For more information, contact Neal at 283-3576 or bryantneal808@gmail.com.

 
 

 

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