university of hawaii virtual museum

"Harnessing the power of the Internet to bring Hawai'i's rich and diverse heritage to a global audience."


The University of Hawai'i is the oldest state university in Hawai'i, with a rich history of more than a century. The university houses comprehensive museum collections of retrospective and current research and teaching materials pertaining to both Hawai'i and Asian-Pacific cultures. In response to the growing demand of the public for digital access to these collections (especially teachers and students), the Museum Consortium (UHMC) of the University of Hawai‘i was created to initiate the first campus-wide Virtual Museum (UHVM) through the shared application of a leading museum management software (KE EMu).

This new initiative will provide local, national, and international educators and learners with a digital tool specifically designed to develop or use humanities resources. An interactive online environment will offer a compilation of teaching resources (text, images, video and multimedia) currently held by one of Hawai'i's premier institutions.

The Virtual Museum allows scholars, educators, students, and the American public to have ready and easy access to explore thousands of records and nationally significant objects from a range of collections (including art works and historic photographs). Descriptive catalogs that provide detailed information about humanities materials will be available on individual collection objects. The rationale behind the Virtual Museum is to unify campus collections that are currently isolated in departmental units and allow visitors to experience their rich diversity and overlapping subject and geographic areas of interest.

By offering a single access-point to information about the disparate collections, digitally reproducing and integrating the collections will reduce the cost and redundancy of publicizing them individually, as well as improve public understanding and recognition of their significance as a whole. In addition, it will enable previously isolated collection curators to work together more effectively through greater knowledge of each other's resources and by sharing best data management practices and strategies for improving online public access and educational programs.

The Museum Consortium (UHMC) of the University of Hawai‘i performs the following functions:

- development and management of the Virtual Museum portal,
- authoring of museum collection research and development grants,
- allocation of funds provided by external agencies,
- workshop training and travel to professional meetings,
- establishment of policies on the use of various institutional grants,
- advising the university administration on policies that govern university collections.

Chaired by the Director of the Museum Studies Graduate Certifcate Program, Dr. Karen K. Kosasa, the UHMC consists of appointed and voluntary committee members. Members are primarily university museum curators/collection managers and represent the various campuses of the UH system. The UH Museum Consortium holds quarterly meetings.

The Virtual Museum web site is managed by Dr. Michael Thomas, UH Herbarium. Dr. Thomas has played a key role in the creation of both the VM web site and the UHMC.

Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation
College of Arts and Humanities
Department of American Studies
Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program
Joseph F. Rock Herbarium, Dept. of Botany