In 2003, the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center (MDC) was established to interpret the natural science, culture and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and surrounding marine environment. Since most people will never have the opportunity to visit these remote islands, our facility on the bayfront in Hilo, Hawaiʻi serves to "bring the place to the people" and spur greater public awareness of the region and ocean conservation issues.
Housed in Hilo’s historic, century old Koehnen Building, Mokupāpapa features a 3,500 gallon saltwater aquarium, interactive educational exhibits, lifesize models of wildlife found in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, artwork inspired by those islands and Hawaiian culture, and many interpretive panels in both Hawaiian and English. The beauty of the historic Koehnen building has been preserved and refreshed to show off its majesty, including a koa wood staircase, Hawaiian hardwood floors, and high ceilings.
In our new facility, the nature and culture of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands come alive as never before, transporting visitors to this remote ocean wilderness where predators rule the reefs, the skies teem with swooping, screeching seabirds, and the Native Hawaiian chanting of the Kumulipo (a Hawaiian creation chant) sets the mood for exploration and learning.