The Bailey House Museum: A Journey Through Time
If you’re in the mood for a fun-filled family adventure that doesn’t involve soaking up the sun or sandy beaches, the Bailey House Museum is just the place for you. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Maui and discover something new with every visit.
A Peek into the Past
The Bailey House Museum is maintained by the Maui Historical Society and stands as a testament to the island’s history and rich cultural heritage. It was built in 1833, in the heart of Iao Valley and was once the royal compound of Kahekili II, the last ruling chief of Maui. The structure, made of lava rock and koa wood, was originally intended to be a mission for adults and children. However, in 1837, it was converted into the Wailuku Female Seminary, a boarding school that taught its students Christianity, domestic skills, and the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Reverend Jonathan Smith Green and Theodosia managed the establishment until 1844, when Missionary teachers Caroline and Edward Bailey took over. This western-style stone house is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places and stands as one of the first of its kind in Wailuku. The Bailey family lived in the house until 1888, and in 1957, the Bailey House opened its doors as a history museum full of diverse exhibits.
What the Museum Offers
The Bailey House Museum is run by the Maui Historical Society and is known by its Hawaiian name, Hale Hoʻikeʻike, which means House of Display. When you visit, you’ll find a large collection of Hawaiian artifacts and 19th-century paintings by Edward Bailey.
On the first of the two floors, you’ll discover a treasure trove of Pre-European contact Hawaiian artifacts, including utensils, tools, and weapons. Over 100 of Edward Bailey’s landscape oil paintings are also on display, along with the only wooden statue of the Hawaiian demigod, Kamapuaʻa. This statue is a highlight of the museum, as it’s one of the few wooden statues remaining on Maui after the 1819 purge of the indigenous religion. The first floor also showcases a snail and mollusk collection and a replica of an ancient Polynesian-style sailing vessel modeled after the Hokulea.
Take a step back in time on the second floor, where each room is designed to represent a house in early 19th-century Hawaii. You’ll find an array of furniture and belongings that were common during that era, allowing you to appreciate the rich history of this residence. Historical papers preserved by the Maui Historical Society are also available for those interested in delving deeper into the past in their academic pursuits.
The stunning gardens of the Bailey House Museum are reason enough to visit. Rolling with native Hawaiian plants, including some endangered species, these grounds are a perfect place to snap a few photos. The garden also features plants that were typical of the missionary era, along with a 33-foot Honaunau outrigger canoe from the 1900s. The canoe, carved from a single koa log, is one of the last koa fishing canoes to be made in Hawaii, and a small outlying shelter displays a 1919 redwood surfboard belonging to Duke Kahanamoku, which is now over a century old.
After your tour, don’t forget to visit the Museum Gift Shop, located south of the Old Bailey House. Here you’ll find locally handcrafted artisan items and books on Hawaii and its history. From tropical wedding gifts to Maui coffee, soap, and Hawaiian sea salts, you’re sure to find something in this gift shop to take home as a souvenir.
Old Bailey House Location
The Bailey House Museum, located on Main Street in Wailuku, is a must-see for anyone interested in learning more about Hawaii’s history and culture. Open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 2 pm, the museum offers special tours and educational programs that help bring the stories of Maui’s past to life. Visitors can explore five different galleries featuring authentic artifacts and art pieces that offer insight into how people lived and worked throughout the Hawaiian islands.
There are also displays honoring significant leaders of Hawaiian society, as well as interactive exhibits that let visitors gain an understanding of native lifestyles and customs. For those with an interest in ecology, there are also outdoor gardens where they can learn about endangered species of animals and plants as well as sustainable agricultural practices. Additionally, visitors can take part in activities such as hula lessons and ukulele demonstrations that help to further deepen their connection with Hawaii’s unique heritage. The Bailey House Museum is the perfect place for everyone to get a closer look at this special region’s history and culture.