The mission of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i—located next to the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo—is “to honor Maunakea [sic*] by sharing astronomy and the Hawaiian culture to inspire exploration.” The Center’s interactive exhibits: 3D full dome planetarium, award-winning native plant landscape, programs and events engage children, families, visitors and the local community in the wonders of science and technology found in Hawai‘i.
‘Imiloa, meaning “to explore” or “to seek knowledge or profound truth,” was developed in the mid-1990s by a team of educators, scientists and community leaders to fulfill a need for a comprehensive educational facility to showcase the connections between Hawaiian cultural traditions and the astronomical research conducted at the summit of Maunakea.
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye helped secure federal funding from planning to construction, while the University of Hawai’i at Hilo continues to lead the effort to develop the vision of ‘Imiloa
‘Imiloa’s executive director is Ka’iu Kimura, who was raised in Waimea and is a graduate of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, with formal education in Hawaiian language and literature.
“UH-Hilo is committed to working collaboratively with private and public enterprises, both locally and throughout the world,” said Kimura. “We have been busy participating with national and international partners and organizations. From ‘Imiloa programs being offered at other national science centers, planetarium show productions, culture and science integration consultations, to co-authoring grants and publications, ‘Imiloa has active connections with the global community!” she outlined.
‘Imiloa is located in the 300-acre UH Hilo Science and Technology Park, adjacent to the university and close to the multinational astronomy base facilities. Though it is also a visitor attraction, the primary audience for ‘Imiloa is local youth, their families, and all who have an impact on their lives, says Kimura.
It offers a venue for local organizations or families to rent, a monthly “Maunakea Skies” program, hosted by top astronomers and annual events such as the KTA Family Free Day in February and ‘Imiloa’s Hilo Wayfinding and Navigation Festival.
Location: 600 ‘Imiloa Place, Hilo (off Komohana and Nowelo Sts.)
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday (closed Mondays)