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HTA Sponsors New Exhibit at MCR

December 14, 2016

MCR Staff pose with the new Trailside Exhibit sponsored by HTA

What has a dozen pictures of fossils and artifacts, a giant tortoise, Joe Kanahele at work with volunteers, and a familiar landscape as it might have looked a millennium ago, all in one place? Answer, our new wayside exhibit entitled Makauwahi Cave Reserve: Where Past and Future Meet.

Thanks to the Hawai`i Tourism Authority, a nice new exhibit (poster available here in PDF format) overlooks the sinkhole at Makauwahi Cave, picturing the kinds of things we have found in excavations over the years, as well as reconstructions of extinct native birds by artist/paleontologist Julian Hume and brief descriptions of the Reserve, its history, and the conservation lessons it offers. HTA chose six organizations throughout the State of Hawai`i last year to receive a large color 3 X 4 foot outdoor exhibit to interpret the site’s features. MCR volunteers worked with Design Asylum, Inc., a graphic arts firm in Honolulu, to develop interpretive themes and text, provide pictures, and see the project to completion.

Part-time MCR employees supervised by Reserve Caretaker Joe Kanahele installed the exhibit along the Makauwahi Cave Trail where the view of the sinkhole is stupendous, with an equally stupendous backdrop formed by Mt. Haupu. Dr. Hume’s painting shows essentially the same scene, as the paleoecological results suggest it might have appeared shortly before the arrival of the first people, ancestors of the Hawaiians.

Inset pictures show a dozen examples of the types of fossils and artifacts that have been excavated by scientists over the last quarter century in Makauwahi Cave, as described in Dr. David Burney’s 2011 book: Back to the Future in the Caves of Kauai. These include photomicrographs of fossil pollen and diatoms, pictures of bird bones and snail shells, and remarkable artifacts from early Polynesian times.

We expect, based on visitation statistics from last year, that more than 30,000 people will pass by the new exhibit in 2017, and hope it will continue serving for years to come. We also hope to find a way to fund a few more wayside exhibits to sprinkle around the Reserve to interpret such interesting features as our collections of native plants and Hawaiian cultivars, endangered birds in our wetland restorations, and – of course – information about our helpful tortoise herd.