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Hawai‘i at the World Fairs, 1867–1893

Stacy L. Kamehiro


     Since early contact with European visitors, Native Hawaiians appropriated and modified various alien cultural practices, concepts, and technologies. They adapted a range of forms to their own aesthetic and social values, a process also motivated by desires to engage international trade and cultivate respect among foreign nations. Kamehameha I (c. 1753-1819),1 the first ruler of the unified Hawaiian archipelago, was perhaps the first Native Hawaiian chief to adopt, on a striking scale, European weapons, architecture, furnishings, cloth, and clothing. For instance, the famous "red vest" portrait of Kamehameha2 painted by Louis Choris, an artist aboard the Russian warship Rurik, in November 1816 represents a double engagement with Western representational practices as it demonstrates the chief's curiosity about painting and his insistence on presenting himself in appropriate European garb to a foreign audience.3 As the nineteenth century unfolded, Hawaiian chiefs incorporated other cultural forms such as Western-styled literature and poetry, music, architecture, painting, photography, theater, monuments, museums, and scientific organizations to further their own cultural and intellectual interests and curiosities. In so doing, they also cultivated means by which to resist colonial pressures exerted by the prosperous and increasingly influential haole (Euro-American) settlers in the Hawaiian Islands. ‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu, (figure 1) is the most monumental example of Hawaiian participation in symbolic nation-making. Commissioned by King David Kalākaua who reigned from 1874-1891, the palace declared his political legitimacy and attracted international notice of Hawaiian modernity.

Figure 1

Figure 1:  ‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu, O‘ahu, 1880s.  Courtesy State Archives of Hawai‘i.


     This study examines another instance of Native Hawaiian involvement with internationalist culture, namely world fair exhibitions from 1867, the first documented Hawaiian exhibit submitted to an international venue, to 1893 when a political coup serving settler and American interests dismantled the authority of the indigenous monarchy. The Hawaiian Kingdom participated in many international fairs, including the 1867 and 1889 Expositions Universelles held in Paris, Weltausstellung 1873 Wien, Centennial Exhibition hosted by Philadelphia in 1876, Boston's American Exhibition of the Products, Arts and Manufactures of Foreign Nations in 1883, the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibitions in London, World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of New Orleans in 1884-1885, Louisville's 1885 Southern Exposition, two Australian fairs undertaken in 1888 – the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition and the Exhibition of Women's Industries and Centenary Fair in Sydney, Nord-West-Deutsche Gewerbe und Industrie-Austellung in Bremen, 1890, and, though no longer as a sovereign kingdom, in Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. As was often the case with other nations' contributions to world fairs, the content and appearance of Hawaiian exhibits was, to a great extent, conditioned by the domestic and foreign social and political affairs of the kingdom. In the 1860s, when the independence of the monarchy was somewhat secure and the devastating effects of the 1848 Great Mahele4 were not yet fully manifest, to the mid-1880s, which was characterized by the nativist optimism of King Kalākaua's reign, the Native elite engaged in world fairs like those in Paris (1867) and Philadelphia (1876) as a form of anticolonial nationalism and also as an expression of their genuine interest in a variety of modern cultural and intellectual institutions and practices. From 1887 into the early twentieth century, however, the nature of Hawaiian contributions to the fairs changed, reflecting the shifting power relations among the kingdom's elite. Exhibitions submitted to fairs in Sydney (1888), Paris (1889), and Chicago (1893) indicate a progressively intensifying bifurcation among the Native and non-Native elite, with haole interests becoming increasingly dominant. Examining the historical evolution of Hawaiian displays in international exhibitions in terms of their participants, content, organization, and visual presentation demonstrates a transformation from more collaborative and somewhat complementary efforts among the kingdom's various contributors to a condition of amplified conflict and political tension as settler concerns challenged the authority of indigenous leadership.

Exposition Universelle (Paris, 1867) and Centennial Exhibition (Philadelphia, 1876)

     Through their consumption of academic and popular images and texts, as well as travel abroad, Native Hawaiians were familiar with the ways Western states, museums, and individuals collected and displayed objects from Oceania and other colonial regions as specimens, commodities, and curiosities, particularly in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. They also observed that European and American exhibits of their own national arts, manufactures, natural resources, and institutions promoted allegories of progress and empire. While significant historical scholarship has been devoted to the poetics and politics of Western national and colonial exhibitions, little work attends to subaltern self-representation in similar contexts. The Hawaiian case provides a rare and remarkable example of Native self-display. As Native Hawaiians assembled and arranged objects and images, they engaged contemporary scientific, colonial, and nationalist discourses and responded to being gathered and presented as curiosities and objects of scientific study. They wielded collections and exhibitions to resist Western characterizations of the Hawaiian Kingdom as an "other" culture and fashioned their own modernity through visual presentations of "culture," "history," and "nation," demonstrating what anthropologist Marshall Sahlins calls "the indigenization of modernity," "the demand of the people for their own space within the world cultural order." He suggests that "rather than a refusal of the commodities and relations of the world-system, this more often means…a desire to indigenize them."5

     It must be emphasized, however, that early Hawaiian participation in international fairs was a collaborative endeavor, involving various constituencies. Different parties in the Islands were variously motivated to undertake the effort and expense of organizing, publicizing, executing, and administering displays of items related to culture, intellectual life, commerce, and education. Some representational goals were held in common by indigenous and settler communities; other aspects of the displays reveal competing interests and struggles to define the character, leadership, and direction of the nation's future. Congregationalist missionaries working under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, for example, led educational and religious affairs in the kingdom; they were proud to showcase their accomplishments in "civilizing" Hawai‘i at international exhibitions. Some participants, such as missionary descendants and other foreign settlers, were keen to advertise their scholarly projects (particularly in history, anthropology, and the natural sciences), as well as their successes, and future potential, in manufacturing, trade, and business. Ali‘i (members of the chiefly classes) were likewise concerned with documenting their progress and engagement with the practices of modern life and their aspirations to furthering civilized society, in addition to celebrating their unique cultural traditions and contributions to world history.

Figure 2

Figure 2: The Palace Building, Champ de Mars, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1867. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


     Hawaiian interest in international exhibitions dates to 1853, when King Kamehameha III's (Kauikeaouli, 1813-1854) Privy Council records indicate his resolution to send, at the invitation of the French emperor, a contribution to the Exposition Universelle scheduled for 1855 in Paris and to join the celebration of Napoleon III's birthday.6 Due to the king's death in 1854, these plans never came to fruition. Hawai‘i did, however, send a small, but respectable collection to the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris (figure 2). It was the smallest (occupying two rooms and approximately sixty-three square meters7) of the over thirty national exhibits. Featured in the Palace Building located in the Champ de Mars, "Hawaii occupied two square apartments…These apartments were lined by cases having glazed fronts, and wood-work painted cane-color, and were shaded by cloth canopies suspended above them."8 The display contained an impressive array of objects contributed by over fifty exhibitors, described by a contemporary observer as being "exhibited with excellent taste,"9 including items representing manufactures and industries such as samples of cotton, wool, sugar, rice, coffee, and other agricultural products. Maps and natural history specimens of volcanic materials, minerals, woods, shells, native plants and animals attested to the intellectual life of the Islands. Paintings by R. C. Janion, engravings, and photographs by H. Chase depicting a portrait of King Kamehameha and views of local scenery represented local cultural accomplishments.

     Dissemination of the written word in the Hawaiian and English languages was amply displayed through missionary publications (e.g., The Friend, Hymn Book, Hawaiian Bible, prayer books including Ka Buke o ka Pule translated by King Kamehameha IV, Mooolelo o ka Ekalesia [History of the Church], and Hele Malihini [Pilgrim's Progress]) and samples of newspapers and periodicals such as The Polynesian, Ka Hae Hawaii (The Hawaiian Flag), Ka Nupepa Kuokoa (The Independent Press), The Hawaiian Gazette, and The Hawaiian Spectator. Promoting proficiencies in education, literacy, and literature, the Evangelical Association of Hawaii presented numerous textbooks related to reading, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, geography, and religious studies and the publisher H. M. Whitney (Honolulu) contributed a Hawaiian-English dictionary, a Hawaiian dictionary, and Na Huaolelo (English-Hawaiian Vocabulary). Complimenting the display of modern industries and liberal arts, organizers evidenced the efficient administration of the nation through government publications including the Civil and Penal Codes, the Hawaiian Constitutions of 1841 and 1852, government pamphlets, a collection of laws passed between 1845-1865, various official reports, and Hawaiian postage stamps.10 Like many of their contemporaries, the kingdom's leaders were concerned with communicating a formal, public expression of the character of the nation that reflected its accomplishments, aspirations, distinctive cultural history and shared humanity. Native and non-Native contributors alike supplied many items to represent what was more broadly described in Group X of the Exposition as "Articles exhibited with the special object of improving the physical and moral condition of the people."

     Specific indigenous items of cultural significance, provided by Native chiefs and royalty, however, more specifically imaged the cultural wealth, historic depth, and persistence of innovative and independent Native leadership of the Islands. Published Hawaiian language texts substantiating indigenous claims to literary and historical achievement were included in the exhibition. Among other books, the Hawaiian Government submitted Ka Mooolelo Hawaii (The History of Hawaii), the first Native history to be published in the Hawaiian language and from an indigenous perspective, which was a collaboration of historian David Malo and other Native scholars at the Lahainaluna Seminary working under the direction of missionary teacher Sheldon Dibble.11 An oral narrative recorded by S. N. Haleole titled Ke Kaao o Laieikawai: Ka Hiwahiwa o Paliuli, Kawahineokaliula (Honolulu, 1863) was additionally exhibited. A fellow student with Malo at the Lahainaluna Seminary where he developed a strong interest in Hawaiian history, Haleole hoped this publication would "awaken in his countrymen an interest in genuine native story-telling based on the folklore of their race and preserving its ancient customs – already fast disappearing since Cook's rediscovery of the group in 1778 opened the way to foreign influence – and by this means to inspire in them old ideas of racial glory."12

Figure 3

Figure 3:  Queen Emma, ca. 1877.  Photograph by A. A. Montano.  Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives (PPWD-15-2.017).


     Similarly intended to denote and encourage indigenous national pride, objects marking a rich cultural heritage and the sanctity of chiefly status were gathered together in one room, spatially separated from the collections that generally constituted natural history specimens and resources, agricultural products, and manufactured items in the other apartment of the Hawaiian display.13 Cultural objects were furnished primarily by the Hawaiian Government and Native contributors such as Queen Emma (wife of Kamehameha IV, figure 3)14 and J. Maluaikoo, with several important items of historic and cultural significance lent by Lady Jane Franklin (widow of the British explorer Sir John Franklin) who had visited the Islands in 1861 and befriended the Queen, hosting Emma during her three-month stay in London in 1865.15 Prominently arranged in large wall cases (figures 4-5), choice decorated barkcloths (kapa) and carved barkcloth-making tools, impressive feather ornaments and garments, shell adornments, feather-plumed standards (kāhili), fine mats, gourd calabashes, polished wood dishes, models of Native architecture and double-canoes, and other implements testified to indigenous artistry, skill, and ingenuity and materially referenced the notable Hawaiian figures who had used or owned these objects. While non-Hawaiian viewers might view these objects as exotic curiosities or ethnographic specimens, for their Native Hawaiian contributors they metonymically presented a historical narrative that centered on grand ceremonials and the feats of great rulers. Cloaks, feather standards, fine mats, decorated barkcloths, and certain serving bowls were the prerogative of chiefs and were inherently powerful as they embodied the mana – a sacred force derived from divine ancestors – of the chiefs who used or had owned them. Furthermore, as tangible manifestations of the narratives associated with chiefs, they represented a succession of noble leadership. Foreign observers did acknowledge the social significance of some of the items; the official catalogue of the exhibition, for instance, informed readers that kāhili (feather standards) functioned as "insignia in feathers, formerly carried before persons of quality in ceremonies; …insignia of very high rank,"16 rather than merely providing details of production.

Figure 4 Figure 5

Figures 4–5: Attr. C. Brouty, [Architectural] rendering of Hawaii Exhibit, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1867, watercolor. Courtesy Bishop Museum (


     So exceptional were the Hawaiian antiquities sent to the exposition, they garnered attention in the local Hawaiian-language press. An article, "Na Mea Kupanaha o Hawaii" (Hawaiian Curios) appearing in the March 2, 1867 edition of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa highlighted the "ancient objects that had been kept from generation to generation" sent by the king to Paris.17 In addition to mentioning the featherwork sent by Queen Emma, the author provided information about several objects like the famed conch shell that was distinguished through the legend of Pikoi-a-‘Alalā (or Pikoi-a-ka-‘Alalā), the celebrated bow-hunter and riddler of Kaua‘i,18 and Kiha-pu, another large sea shell of great antiquity. On the age and renown of this shell, the author reported: "This is a huge sea shell and was believed by the ancients to have been one of the gods of Hawaii. It was decorated with the bones and teeth of ruling chiefs and lesser chiefs killed by Kiha, a chief who lived in the fourteenth century."19 The article documented the significance of other items including temple and hula drums, wood and whale ivory fish hooks, a large wood dish several centuries old that was "decorated with the teeth of ruling chiefs and lesser chiefs killed in battle," two additional wood bowls belonging to the paramount chief Kalaniopu‘u and the first king of the Hawaiian archipelago Kamehameha I, five barkcloth loin cloths (malo) belonging to Kamehameha I's war leaders, and ornaments made of carved whales' teeth and human hair (lei niho palaoa) that were owned by members of the Kamehameha lineage. The article ended by saying, "These things perhaps will show the spectators the wonders of the curios from Hawaii." Overall, the Hawaiian submissions were met with admiration; international juries awarded a bronze medal to the Hawaiian Government Printing Establishment for official documents and journals, a silver medal to the Hawaiian Kingdom for reports and documents, and a gold medal (in an, as yet, undetermined category, figure 6).

Figure 6a Figure 6b

Figure 6.  Gold Medal awarded to the Government of Hawai‘i, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1867.  Photograph by S. L. Kamehiro.  Courtesy State Archives of Hawai‘i (Artifact 112a).


     The displays of Hawaiian cultural and political history, natural resources, and manufacturing visually culminated in symbols of the modern nation, capped by Hawaiian flags and defended by native weapons and paddles that indicated the continued voyage forward. Hawaiian participation in the Exposition Universelle was undertaken during the reign of Lota Kapuāiwa (Kamehameha V, figure 7),20 who ruled as monarch of the kingdom from 1863 to 1872. He was a decidedly nativist, yet internationalist, leader who sought to modernize the kingdom while bolstering the fortitude of chiefly rule; he stated, "the prerogatives of the Crown ought to be more carefully protected…[and] the influence of the Crown ought to be seen pervading every function of the government."21 Prior to assuming the throne, Lota Kapuāiwa encouraged the revival of indigenous healing (kahuna) practices and dance (hula), which had been discouraged by missionaries for decades, and soon after being crowned he promptly promulgated a new constitution that strengthened the power of the king and his chosen cabinet.22 He also worked to develop a modern appearance for the Hawaiian state through various public architectural projects including the ‘Iolani Barracks (also known as Halekoa, "house of warriors," 1870, to accommodate the Royal Guard), the Kamehameha V Post Office building (1871), the Judiciary Building (Ali‘iōlani Hale, constructed during 1872-74 and originally intended to function as a new royal residence), a Royal Mausoleum, and structures for schools

Figure 7 Figure 8

Figure 7:  King Kamehameha V, 1865.  Photograph by Charles Leander Weed.  Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives (PPWD-15-6.016).

Figure 8:  King Kalākaua, ca. 1880.  Photograph by A. A. Montano.  Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives, (PPWD-15-4.013).


and public health.23 In 1871, Lota established June 11th as a national holiday to commemorate Kamehameha I and in 1872 initiated the Hawaiian National Museum. The preamble to the law he signed stated:

Whereas, we as a nation, have taken our position among the civilized and enlightened nations of the earth, both in respect to capabilities of self-government and in the facilities as we enjoy in our high and common schools in the diffusion of popular intelligence; and whereas, a national museum representing the archaeology, literature, geology, and national history of our kingdom would be but another form of school for the education of our youth, as well as a repository for reference to the scientific world at large; and whereas, every succeeding year is rendering it more difficult to gather from the archives of the past the mementoes and relics of our early existence as a nation, as well as the pre-historic age of these islands.

     Therefore be it enacted that the board of education be authorized to establish a national museum in some suitable government building or apartment to be provided by the minister of the interior, in which should be collected and preserved such articles illustrating the subjects named.24

     The king's efforts to gather together the nation's patrimony to celebrate indigenous culture and offer it up to the eyes of the Hawaiian citizenry and to foreigners seems to have been linked to his interest in participating in the Exposition Universelle. Charles de Varigny (1829-99), a Frenchman who served in the Hawaiian House of Nobles from 1864-68 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1865-69 played a leading role in organizing the nation's participation in the Paris exposition. Sympathetic to Native Hawaiian interests, he wrote:

All about me people were predicting the inevitable, and by no means remote, decline of the native race, ending in their absorption by the United States. I, on the other hand, was seeking to determine whether or not racial decadence was actually the Hawaiians' necessary and fated course. I was deeply concerned about the future of this people whose virtues, like their defects, are so strikingly plain to see, and whose hospitality toward foreigners surely served some better reward. A sincere friend of Hawaiian independence, I had little by little become wedded to the idea. I passionately believed, and on the basis of study estimated, that the Polynesian race was capable of progress; and I totally rebelled against a type of political and religious fatalism that condemned the Hawaiians to death and oblivion, for the sake of adding one more star to the Union flag.

     An aboriginal race, cradled within a group of islands protected on every side by an expanse of ocean 700 leagues wide; a Polynesian people, offering to anyone its friendly shores as a homeland, and now timorously requesting entry among the ranks of civilized nations – these Hawaiians seemed to me to have incontestable rights to live their own lives and maintain their own place in the sun.25

Together with de Varigny, Kamehameha V ventured into the realm of international exhibitions, pursuing the opportunity to showcase Hawai‘i's proficiency in international idioms of nation-making and cultivate a national consciousness, while simultaneously preserving the values of indigenous history and tradition.

     The reign of David Kalākaua (1836-1891, figure 8) continued Lota Kapuāiwa's efforts to strengthen national pride among Native Hawaiians and bolster international recognition of Hawaiian sovereignty. The Kalākaua administration took advantage of numerous opportunities to take part in world fairs. Plans to participate in the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Fairmount Park began in 1874, the first year of Kalākaua's kingship, and drew broader attention with increased numbers of Native and non-Native exhibitors. Particularly aroused was the patriotic enthusiasm of the settler community in Hawai‘i, which was largely of American origin. Early in the year, the Pacific Commercial Advertiser (a leading Honolulu-based newspaper) published an appeal to the press and state: "We deem it highly desirable that the Hawaiian nation should be informed through the newspapers published in Honolulu, both in the native and English language, in regard to the purposes and scope of the Exhibition, in order that by directing public attention thereto, some timely action may be taken towards having Hawaii fairly represented." 26 The article urged the government to immediately appoint a commission to prepare the Hawaiian displays and presented a list of suggested items representing "the manufactures, arts, industries and resources of the Hawaiian Islands" to be included in the Philadelphia event, "with honor, and perhaps eventually with profit to ourselves, and to the satisfaction and gratification of the millions who will visit the greatest Exposition ever undertaken." The Kalākaua administration had already initiated the process, as indicated in a letter written by Henry A. Peirce (American Minister to the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, 1869-1877)27 to Hamilton Fish, U.S. Secretary of State, on January 20,1874. In this letter, Peirce confirms that he had, on the same day, received Hawaiian Minister of Foreign Affairs Charles Reed Bishop's acceptance of the invitation to participate in the exhibition. In a dispatch of August 6, 1874, the succeeding Foreign Affairs Minister, William L. Green, alerted Peirce that Kalākaua had appointed S. U. F. Odell (the king's Chargé d'Affairs and Consul-General in New York), Samuel G. Wilder (Minister of the Interior), and Joseph U. Kawainui (a member of the king's Privy Council) as Special Commissioners for the Centennial.28 Eventually, Elisha H. Allen, Jr. replaced Odell as Hawaiian Consul General in NY and Centennial Commissioner, and W. L. Moehonua succeeded Wilder as interior minister and president of the Commission, though Wilder, who by then had been appointed Privy Councillor of State, remained a member. Subsequent commission additions included H. R. Hitchcock (Inspector General of Schools and curator of the Hawaiian National Museum), the Reverend Samuel C. Damon (pastor of the Seamen's Bethel Church, Honolulu), and William T. Brigham (a Boston-based lawyer and later the first curator of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu).29

     Though fairly small compared with those of the other thirty-seven national exhibits, the Hawaiian displays occupied approximately 2000 square feet, with 1574 square feet in the Main Exhibition Building and smaller exhibits in other buildings such as the Agricultural Hall and the Machinery Hall.30 While comparable to the collections displayed in Paris, the Hawaiian contribution this time was significantly larger and more varied. Businessmen and plantation owners submitted more substantial displays of their produce and manufactures. Figures 9 and 10 represent views of the Hawaiian pavilion and show highly polished wood tables, a revolving book rack, picture frames (on the end and rear walls), equestrian gear, cabinetry, land surveys, and vegetable products (sugar, coffee, rice, fiberworks, oils, local woods, etc.). In addition to samples of textbooks, reports, and publications like those displayed earlier in Paris, educational and scholarly organizations as well as several amateur natural scientists and anthropologists submitted elaborate assemblages of geology, mineralogy, conchology, cartography, botany, ichthyology, and ethnology.31 Items of indigenous origin included calabashes made of fine wood, elaborately decorated gourd barkcloths, barkcloth-making tools and dyes, fine mats from the Hawaiian island of Ni‘ihau, featherwork, religious sculpture, coconut shell receptacles, ornaments, and stone tools and implements. Rather than being grouped together as anthropological specimens or curiosities, however, the Native artifacts were entered under specific group classifications such as "Furniture and Objects of General Use in Construction and in Dwellings," "Yarns and Woven Goods of Vegetable or Mineral Materials," "Clothing, Jewelry, and Ornaments," "Institutions and Organizations," and "Machines and Implements of Spinning, Weaving, Felting, and Paper Making," asserting their equal status to Euro-American manufactures. Of particular interest is the representation of indigenous religion through the display of "Wooden idols" submitted by a Native Hawaiian living on the island of Kaua‘i and "Photographs of ancient idols" provided by William T. Brigham. The latter was included in the Photography classification and the former was the sole item classed under the heading "Physical, Social, and Moral Condition of Man," which might be interpreted as an inference of the strides made by settler missionaries or could be taken to confirm the legitimacy of Native religious history and practice by indigenous viewers.

Figure 9 Figure 10

Figure 9.  "Hawaiian Section, Main Building," Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876.  View looking east. Courtesy Free Library of Philadelphia (c020412).

Figure 10: "Hawaian [sic] Island Exhibit, Main Building," Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876.  View looking west. Courtesy Larson Collection, Special Collections Research Center, California State University, Fresno (EXP876.1ab, no. 163).


     Official reports, newspapers, and popular publications favorably received the Hawaiian exhibition. Frank H. Norton's coverage began by stating, "The display from Hawaii…for so young and so small a kingdom is most creditable." He continued by providing a brief social and economic history beginning with the English navigator Captain James Cook's landing on the Islands and ending with contemporary government, population, and trade statistics.32 Norton's description of the exhibit focused on the Native objects, especially Queen Emma's praiseworthy collection, and emphasized the high value of several of the entries. He provided a particularly detailed commentary on an item that was not displayed, the famous yellow feather cloak (‘ahu ‘ula) of King Kamehameha I, who had inherited it in the late eighteenth century from the paramount chief of the island of Hawai‘i, Kalaniopu‘u.33 Norton explained the absence of the "state robe of the Hawaiian Majesty," a "remarkable garment," in equitable, not exoticizing, terms: "The fact is…that the cloak or robe, which is…made of feathers, and is used only at coronations, or on other important state occasions, could not possibly be allowed to go out of the kingdom. The value of this unique garment is said to be several hundred thousand dollars, and the time and labor employed in its construction were something quite enormous."34 James D. McCabe's Illustrated History of the Centennial Exhibition described the Hawaiian pavilion as "handsome" and made special note of Hitchcock's natural history collections and Queen Emma's exhibits.35

     The Philadelphia press gave similar treatment to the Hawaiian displays. The Evening Bulletin reported, "Hawaii sends to the Centennial Exhibition a creditable, varied and very interesting display of her products and industries. The Sandwich Islands are not the abode of cannibals, as some are apt to believe, but thriving, busy places, where civilization has made good progress."36 Like the Bulletin, the Evening Telegraph, in two articles covering Hawai‘i, began by reminding readers of Kalākaua's recent travels in the United States, which now prompted much interest in the kingdom's exhibit, and proceeded to describe the exhibits comprehensively and in a complimentary light. The author remarked, "The specimens exhibited attract as much from their extreme novelty here as they do for their exquisite finish" and concluded the article by writing that "the entire section [is] well worthy of a visit," noting that more goods were being added.37 Though sometimes remarking on the individual contributors to the exhibition, published accounts overall focused on the objects themselves. Occasional mention was made of "curious" items or Native skill and artistry in neutral or positive language; for instance with regard to Joseph Nawahī's c. 1868 oil painting of Hilo Bay38 and the work of other Native painters, the Evening Bulletin described these as "expressive of good taste."39 Yet no sustained or conspicuous effort was made to distinguish, qualitatively or quantitatively, between Native and non-Native representatives; the impression offered was one of a diverse and united nation.

     Participants in the Philadelphia fair represented an ethnically heterogeneous community that seemed to be functioning somewhat harmoniously. Native Hawaiians and settlers of Asian and Euro-American descent contributed to the exhibition, to all appearances, as equal citizens of the nation. Though white settlers constituted the majority of exhibitors, also present were items lent by Afong & Achuck, Frederick W. Beckley (husband to the chiefess Emma Kaili Metcalf Beckley), Chulan & Co., Queen Emma, the Hawaiian National Museum (including collections acquired by several high chiefs), E. P. Kamaipelekane, J. M. Kapena, Kealoha, J. H. Nawahī, Elizabeth Kekaaniau Pratt, Wong Go, and an unnamed "Native of Hawaii."40 This sense of cooperation coheres with the mood of the early part of Kalākaua's reign, which was marked by cautiously amiable relations among the various sectors of Hawaiian society. Many settlers, who backed Kalākaua in his bid for the kingship,41 believed he would serve their economic interests and strengthen ties with the United States. Their hopes, especially those of plantation owners, were rewarded by Kalākaua's personal efforts to secure a reciprocity treaty allowing certain agricultural goods into American markets duty-free. In 1874 the king sent a commission to promote and negotiate a trade treaty, and he later traveled to the U.S. to meet with President Ulysses Grant. The president signed the Reciprocity Treaty in 1875, and the following year – the year of the Centennial Exhibition – the U.S. Congress passed an act ratifying the treaty.42 Still, Kālakaua was also keen to celebrate Native Hawaiian history, institutions, and achievement with the desire to secure the prosperity of his indigenous constituency and legitimize his kingship.

     This muted tension, between a spirit of collaboration and a vying for control of the Hawaiian state (or rather, over whom the state was supposed to serve), was faintly evident in the exhibition at the Philadelphia Centennial. While the displays of agricultural products and natural history collections occupied much of the floor space and end walls of the Hawaiian pavilion, these were largely enveloped by Native cultural forms. Upon passing through either of the two entrances, the viewer's gaze was immediately directed to the back wall upon which loomed a large draped Hawaiian flag and the king's royal banner flanking a framed image of the Hawaiian coat of arms painted on glass. Below these was an array of religious sculpture, barkcloth-making tools, implements of native woods, and ornaments. Though combined with settler displays of publications and natural specimens, the pavilion's interior cases primarily showcased Native Hawaiian objects of historic and cultural value (e.g., featherwork, chiefly possessions, and items demonstrating indigenous knowledge and expert artistry). Overall, displays representing settler culture and achievement were spatially and visually contained by symbols of Native historical continuity and social accomplishment. A few Hawaiian items exhibited on the pavilion floor were likewise given spatial priority. Centered in the exhibition area between the two entrances stood a raised platform showing a saddle and bridle and model of a canoe (figure 10), together evoking motion and voyaging in both traditional and modern forms. Also displayed on this center stage were two large polished gourds of indigenous design. The exterior view of the exhibit similarly underscores the visual priority given to Native history and culture over foreign setters' achievements (figure 11). The front display cases were abundantly filled with indigenous cultural forms, such as elaborately decorated barkcloths, drums, woodwork, featherwork, and stone tools, whereas specimens of mounted ferns lent by Reverend Claudius Buchanan Andrews of Maui were relegated to the side of the pavilion.

Figure 11

Figure 11: Stereo photo of Hawaiian Exhibit, International Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876. Photographer Unknown. Courtesy Bishop Museum (


Women's Industries and Centenary Fair (Sydney, 1888), Exposition Universelle (Paris, 1889), and World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1893)

     Upon assuming the throne, Kalākaua was eager to assert his authority as monarch, taking advantage of Kamehameha V's constitutional revisions, and was not as easily controlled as the haole business oligarchy had anticipated. As his reign continued, he vigorously pursued his motto "Ho‘oulu Lāhui" (Increase the Nation), applying great effort and spending significant sums to bolster Native Hawaiian health, pride, and success – integral to the survival of the declining native population – through building projects, reviving indigenous cultural and healing practices, and organizing grand celebrations of his kingship. Kalākaua also worked to reinforce recognition of the kingdom's autonomy and his rule in the community of nations by increasing his diplomatic corps abroad, journeying around the world to meet with heads of state, and subscribing to international cultural and intellectual institutions like world fairs. The economic prosperity gained by the Reciprocity Treaty permitted this spending, but simultaneously irked the settler business community who felt the king's outlays to be gratuitous, only serving to jeopardize the stability of the nation.43 In July 1887 the king's increasingly hostile opponents, who demanded what they considered to be their fair and rightful share of political representation that would better promote their economic interests, forced Kalākaua to sign what has come to be known as "the Bayonet Constitution," which placed heavy restrictions on the executive power of the king and opened the vote to non-citizens who met property and literacy qualifications.44

Figure 12

Figure 12: Hawaiian Exhibits," Women's Industries and Centenary Fair, Sydney, 1888. Courtesy Hawaiian Historical Society (Oversize 3728).


     Hawaiian participation in the Women's Industries and Centenary Fair held in Sydney, Australia, in 1888 is symptomatic of the growing enmity among sectors of the Hawaiian leadership and the king's appeals to other nations for support and validation. At this exposition, only the king forwarded an exhibit. Though a modest display, the exhibit made a compelling statement about the character of the kingdom and its rulers (figure 12). It consisted solely of objects related to indigenous history and culture; no agricultural, industrial, or scientific specimens were sent.45 The glass case was guarded by life-size photographic portraits of King Kalākaua and his queen, Kapi‘olani, the former attired in a highly decorated full military uniform (visually echoing the prominently placed crossed Native weapons in the foreground of the display case) and the latter dressed in a fine gown and sash of a royal order, seated on a throne mounted by a crown and draped with the well-known feather cloak that had belonged to Kamehameha I. Hawaiian flags formed a backdrop to the portraits and framed the exhibit case. A closer view of the exhibit contents shows types of items that had been presented in earlier international fairs: fine mats, barkcloths, featherwork, chiefly serving vessels and implements, woodwork and sculpture – many of which had individual narratives that linked them to specific historic figures and famous Native rulers (figure 13).

Figure 13

Figure 13: "Hawaiian Exhibits," Women's Industries and Centenary Fair, Sydney, 1888 (detail). Courtesy State Archives of Hawai‘i (PP-08).


     Notable items of more recent origin were also exhibited, recalling the innovative and modern character of Native Hawaiians and their bid for due recognition. For example, an object that received special attention in a Sydney newspaper was "a primitive telephone, which invention has been in common use in the Hawaiian Islands since 1806, very much to the credit of this intelligent race of people."46 In the foreground, in clear view on the lowest shelf was placed the medal of the Royal Order of the Star of Oceania, established by King Kalākaua in 1886 "for the recompense of distinguished services rendered in advancing the name and influence of Hawaii amongst the native communities of the Islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and on contiguous Continents."47 Its display, next to what I believe is the Kalākaua Coronation medal (based on its size and shape) that commemorated the election of this king, was in keeping with the Australian context of the fair; Kalākaua endeavored to affirm his kingship and strengthen ties with other Pacific nations and communities as one means of safeguarding against the American annexation of the kingdom. Making clear the intention of the exhibit, an article from the Sydney Mail was reprinted on the reverse of the photograph pictured in figure 12. It concluded, "Any idea that the Hawaiian people are to be classed as uncivilized must be at once dispelled by an examination of their work, and the development of their country. As seen in the photographs exhibited, electric light in every household, and telephonic communication throughout the cities are amongst the evidence of high civilization."48

Figure 14 Figure 15

Figures 14–15: Hawaiian Exhibit, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1889.  Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives (PP-20-1).


     By 1889, however, the weakened power of the king and the rising dominance of the haole oligarchy were evident in the Hawaiian exhibit at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Native presence was now significantly marginalized in the displays. While the exhibit included Native antiquities, symbols of chiefly status, and material markers of history and rulership, these were far fewer in number and less prominently displayed compared to earlier exhibitions. They now took on a more decorative function; more centrally placed and formally presented were settlers' agricultural and manufacturing exhibits, natural history specimens, and pictorial views. For instance, fans and netted calabashes were merely tacked up on the wall (figure 14) and the papa hōlua (a type of sled used by chiefs renowned for their bravery and physical prowess), which enjoyed salient presence in the Sydney exhibit, was casually leaned upright against a display case of shells and volcanic specimens (figure 15). One detects a different imaging of Native Hawaiian places and people. No longer were royal portraits displayed with dignity, nor were Native antiquities of historical significance given distinct placement; rather, pictures of dusky maidens (corresponding to those produced for the nineteenth-century tourist views trade that feminized the islands for colonial consumption; figure 16), anthropological images of Hawaiian "types" (in the six framed photographs at the top of figure 15), along with depictions of birds, plants, and romantic scenery dominated the Hawaiian imaginary. Paintings and photographs of productive plantations evoked the promise of success to potential foreign settlers. Further, while Native contributions had been organized alongside settler exhibits in various item categories at the Paris and Philadelphia world fairs, in 1889 indigenous objects were now isolated into a single classification, "Class B. Native Manufactures and Implements,"49 separated from the displays of art, science, inventions, education, and manufactures.50

Figure 16

Figure 16: Hawaiian Exhibit, Exposition Universelle, Paris 1889.  Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives (PP-20-1).


Figure 17

Figure 17: The Kilauea cyclorama on the Midway Plaisance at the World's Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893.  In Halsey Cooley Ives, The Dream City: A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World's Columbian Exposition (St. Louis: N. D. Thompson Publishing Co., 1893).


     After Kalākaua's death in 1891, his sister Lili‘uokalani assumed the throne. Though she tried to restore monarchical power through a new constitution, she was met with resistance by a clandestine Annexation Club, which eventually overthrew her and established a provisional government in 1893. After the promulgation of the 1887 Bayonet Constitution and the 1893 coup, a gradual but forceful erasure of Native Hawaiian art, culture, and history ensued. By 1893, the imaging of Native Hawaiians at the world fairs had dramatically altered. The Hawaiian exhibit at the World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893 was organized by settler Hawaiians who were rallying for American annexation and trying to encourage tourism and more white settlement in the Islands. The main feature of the display was the cyclorama of the Kilauea volcano painted by Chicago artist Walter Burridge, located near the Ferris Wheel and surrounded by the American Indian Village, Algerian and Tunisian Village, and East Indian Palace in the entertainment district of the exhibition known as the Midway Plaisance.51 Lorrin A. Thurston, a prominent leader in the overthrow of the monarchy and Annexation Club, initiated and promoted this concession.52 Another Chicago artist, Ellen Rankin Copp, modeled a monumental twenty-five foot statue of "Pele, the Goddess of Fire," seated on a lava flow wielding a torch in one hand with her other hand ready to pitch a mass of lava, which decorated the entrance to the cylindrical building housing the cyclorama53 (figure 17), a clear gesture towards the eroticization and trivializing of Native Hawai‘i and its declining power to represent itself. The volcano concession also advertised the first hula troupe to perform at a world fair, accentuating the shift in the character of Native Hawaiian displays in international exhibitions from sovereign, historically-situated, and modern self-presentation to feminized, exotic, tourist curiosity.54 This representational trend continued and expanded into the twentieth century so that by the time of the Pan-American Exposition in 1901 (at Buffalo, New York), which took place after the annexation of Hawai‘i by the United States had been accomplished through persistent lobbying on the part of haole leaders of what had become the Republic of Hawai‘i in 1894, the principal popular image of Native Hawaiians consisted of topless or barely clad "hula-hula girls" (figure 18) and male troubadours who performed in the "Hawaiian Village," an orientalist-styled structure on the Midway. Their exhibition now closely conformed to the exotic and erotic spectacles of "other" non-European colonized peoples.

Figure 18

Figure 18: "Hula Hula Girls, Hawaiian Village," Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901. In Richard H. Barry, Snap-Shots on the Midway of the Pan-Am. Expo. at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY: Robert Allan Reid, Publishers, 1901), 158.


     These examples of Hawaiian participation in international fairs throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century suggest that the representational genre of "the exhibition" expressed the intersecting and competing interests of a range of contributors and organizers in defining what Hawaiian culture, history, and nation meant to different people and at different times. The historical and social conditions prompting indigenous actors to engage foreign modes of collection and representation demonstrates the entanglements among colonial communities; Native Hawaiian adoption of collecting and exhibiting could be forms of acceptance of Western institutions, or resistance to these, or something in between.55 By exploring the interdependencies and tensions between colonizer and colonized in cultural production, it is apparent that Native Hawaiians utilized representational strategies involving the gathering and arranging of objects to influence social and political relationships in international fields of vision, knowledge and power. Decisions regarding what to display and how to deploy objects were creative, political acts that contributed to fashioning Hawaiian national culture in complex ways. Exhibits of material and visual culture shaped and documented colonial history, gave form to indigenous anxieties about the future, and served to assert survival and legitimacy to Native communities, to increasingly antagonistic settler colonists competing for political authority, and to the international community through appeals for recognition of the kingdom's sovereignty. By the century's end, however, Hawaiian exhibits at world fairs illustrated the effect of settler colonial machinations and the loss of Native political autonomy, which constrained Native capacity to define its own image for global viewers.


     I am grateful for the research assistance of Jamie McNary, Drew Pomatti, Mariah Briel, and Kelema Moses. I also offer my sincere thanks to staff members at archives across the country for making materials related to international exhibitions available. These collections include: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Library and Archives; Boston Public Library; Chicago History Museum and Historical Society; Free Library of Philadelphia; Hawai‘i State Archives; Hawai‘i State Library; Hawaiian Historical Society; Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library; Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Donald G. Larson Collection of International Expositions and Fairs, Henry Madden Library Special Collections Research Center, California State University, Fresno; The Library Company of Philadelphia; Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library; New York Public Library; and University of Louisville, Kentucky (Art Library – Special Collections, Ekstrom Library – Rare Books Collection, Photoarchives, and University Archives and Records Center). Support was provided by the Arts Research Institute, Porter College Research Fellowships, and Committee on Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Stacy L. Kamehiro is Associate Professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has published on Native Hawaiian visual culture, race images in nineteenth-century American trade card lithography, and scientific images produced during Pacific voyaging expeditions. Her book, The Arts of Kingship (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2009), offers an account of Native Hawaiian public art during the reign of David Kalākaua. Kamehiro's current research examines the politics of art organizations in Hawai‘i following the overthrow of the monarchy, as well as nineteenth-century Hawaiian material culture collecting and exhibition practices. She can be contacted at:


1 Ralph S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, 1778-1854, Foundation and Transformation (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1947), 429-30.

2 For a reproduction of the portrait, see

3 Jean Charlot, Choris and Kamehameha (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1958).

4 The Mahele was comprised of a series of land divisions and the transformation of land into private property, largely into the hands of foreigners. See Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo‘ole Osorio, "Āina and Lāhui," in Dismembering Lāhui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887 (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2002), chapter 3.

5 Marshall Sahlins, "What is Anthropological Enlightenment? Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century," Annual Review of Anthropology 28 (1999), 10, 16.

6 Privy Council Minutes, August 15, 1853, in Kingdom of Hawai‘i Privy Council Records, v. 7 (November 15, 1852-October 17, 1853), 261, State Archives of Hawai‘i. See also Privy Council Minutes for August 14, 17, and 22, 1853.

7 "The Paris Exhibition of 1867," What is the Centennial? And How to See It (Philadelphia: Press of Thomas S. Dando, 1876), 127.

8 J. F. Hunnewell, "Hawaii at the 'Exposition Universelle,' Paris 1867," Hawaiian Club Papers (Boston: Abner A. Kingman, 1868), 18. A letter penned by Kamehameha V to Dowager Queen Emma in 1867 accompanied photographs taken of the Hawaiian exhibits (M-45 Emma Kaleleonalani, Queen of the Hawaiian Islands, 1836-1885, Folder No. NA 05, State Archives of Hawai‘i). I have been unable to locate these photographs and am uncertain as to whether they survive.

9 Account by R. W. Wood, owner of the Koloa Sugar Plantation on Kaua‘i and an active member of the Royal Hawaiian Agricultural Society, to Reverend Samuel Chenery Damon (1815-1885), reprinted in "Hawaii Among the Nations. Gossip from a Dozen (Different) Expositions, "The Sunday Advertiser (Honolulu), August 6, 1911, 4. On the Agricultural Society, see Thomas G. Thrum, "Our Foundation Layers. Honolulu Reminiscences of the Early 'Fifties," Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1919, compiled by Thomas G. Thrum (Honolulu: Thomas G. Thrum, 1918), 44-47. See also Paris Universal Exposition, 1867. Reports of the United States Commissioners. Introduction, with Selections from the Correspondence of Commissioner General Beckwith and Others, Showing the Organization and Administration of the United States Section (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1870).

10 H. F. Hunnewell compiled a catalog of the Hawaiian exhibit from the Exposition universelle de 1867 à Paris. Catalogue Général (Paris: E. Dentu, 1867) and the Paris Universal Exhibition. The Complete Official catalogue (English Version) Published Under the Authority of the Imperial Commission (London: J.M. Johnson & Sons, 1867). See Hunnewell, "Hawaii at the 'Exposition Universelle,'" 22-28. Additional descriptions of the Hawaiian exhibit were published in the Hawaiian Gazette, February 27, 1867, 2; August 14, 1867, 2; Pacific Commercial Advertiser, March 9, 1867, 2; August 17, 1867, 2.

11 Ka Mooolelo Hawaii (Lahainaluna: Mea Pai Palapala no ke Kulanui,1838). See David W. Forbes (compiler), Hawaiian National Bibliography, 1780-1900, Vol. 1 1780-1830 (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press in association with Hordern House, Sydney, 1999), 186.

12 Martha W. Beckwith (trans.), "Introduction," The Hawaiian Romance of Laieikawai (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1918), 9.

13 R. W. Wood provided an approximate description of the contents of the two rooms. The Sunday Advertiser, August 6, 1911, 4.

14 Emma Kaleleonalani Naea Rooke (1836-1885) was the daughter of George Naea (nephew of Kamehameha I) and Fanny Kekeloakalani Young (daughter of John Young and Ka‘ō‘anā‘eha) and was adopted and raised by Grace Kama‘iku‘i and T. C. B. Rooke (an Englishman). She served as queen consort from 1856 to 1863.

15 George S. Kanahele, Emma, Hawai‘i's Remarkable Queen ([Honolulu]: The Queen Emma Foundation, 1999), 190-202.

16 Hunnewell, "Hawaii at the 'Exposition Universelle,'" 25.

17 Translation provided in Hawaiian Ethnographic Notes, Newspapers, Kuokoa, March 2, 1867, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Archives.

18 See Martha Beckwith, Hawaiian Mythology (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1970), 425-27; William D. Westervelt (comp. and trans.), Legends of Old Honolulu (Boston: George H. Ellis Co.; London: Constable & Co., Ltd., 1915), 157-72; Frederick B. Wichman, Nā Pua Ali‘i o Kaua‘i, Ruling Chiefs of Kaua‘i (Honolulu: University Press of Hawai‘i, 2003), 66-67.

19 On the Kiha-pu, see Beckwith, Hawaiian Mythology, 349-51, and Westervelt, Legends of Old Honolulu, 105-111.

20 Lota Kapuāiwa (1830-1872) was the son of Kīnau (daughter of Kamehameha I) and Kekūanao‘a (Governor of O‘ahu), and the brother of and successor to Alexander Liholiho (Kamehameha IV, 1834-1863).

21 Kamehameha V, address to the Hawaiian Cabinet, Cabinet Council Minute Book, March 3, 1864, State Archives of Hawai‘i, in Ralph S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume II, 1854-1874, Twenty Critical Years (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1953), 127.

22 Kuykendall, ibid.,127-34.

23 Ibid., 175. For images of these buildings, see: ‘Iolani Barracks –; Kamehameha V Post Office –; Ali‘iōlani Hale –; Royal Mausoleum – Mausoleum,_ Honolulu,_HI.jpg

24 Kingdom of Hawaii, Laws of His Majesty Kamehameha V, King of the Hawaiian Islands, Passed by the Legislative Assembly at its Session, 1872 (Honolulu: Hawaiian Government Printing Office, 1872), 30-31; see also Hawaiian Gazette September 4, 1872.

25 Charles de Varigny, Fourteen Years in the Sandwich Islands, 1885-1868, trans. A. L. Korn (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1981), 65-66.

26 Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 24, 1874, 2.

27 Peirce later served as the kingdom's Minister of Foreign Affairs and in the House of Nobles in 1878. He was also appointed Special Commissioner to the American Exhibition of the Products, Arts and Manufactures of Foreign Nations, an international exhibition held in Boston in 1883.

28 United States Centennial Commission. Appendix to the Reports of the United States Centennial Commission and Centennial Board of Finance (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Co., 1879), 258-59; see also Hawaiian Gazette, September 9, 1874. Odell was to manage the arrangements in the United States; Wilder and Kawainui (who later served as legislative representative for Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lāna‘i and editor of the Hawaiian-language paper Hawaii Pae Aina) had the responsibility of collecting and inventorying items for display in Honolulu, and shipping them to Philadelphia.

29 United States Centennial Commission. International Exhibition 1876. Official Catalogue. Part IV. Agricultural and Horticultural Halls and Annexes (Philadelphia: John R. Nagle and Company, 1876), 261. See also, F.O. and Ex. 27: Centennial Exhibition 1875-1876: 1875 Documents, State Archives of Hawai‘i.

30 Authorized Visitors Guide to the Centennial Exhibition and Philadelphia 1876 (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1876), 24; The [Philadelphia] Times, May 10, 1876, 1; The United States International Exhibition. The Organization. The Work Proposed. The World Already Done (Philadelphia: Times Printing House, 1875), 35. The Authorized Visitors Guide and What is the Centennial? And How to See It (Philadelphia: Thomas S. Dando, 1876) published ground plans identifying Hawai‘i's location in the Main Exhibition Hall.

31 James M. Safford, "Geological and Mineralogical Collections at the exhibition," in Reports from Commissions, Inspectors, and Others: Thirty-One Volumes, Vol. 19, Education Department, Philadelphia International Exhibition (London: George E. Eyre and William Spottiswode, 1878), 486; United States Centennial Commission, International Exhibition 1876, Official Catalogue, Part I. Main Building and Annexes, revised edition (Philadelphia: John R. Nagle and Co., 1876), 250-51; Francis A. Walker (ed.), International Exhibition, 1876. Reports and Awards. Group I (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Co., 1878), 413; Francis A. Walker (ed.), International Exhibition, 1876. Reports and Awards, Vol. IV. Groups III-VII (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1880), 10, 33, 35, 39, 43, 77, 244-45; "Official List of Exhibitors from the Hawaiian Islands, International Exhibition, U.S. Centennial," Wilder Papers, Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library.

32 Frank H. Norton, Illustrated Historical Register of the Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876, and of the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1878 (New York: American News Co., 1879), 247-48.

33 On the history of this feather cloak, and its significance in late nineteenth-century Hawaiian politics, see Stacy L. Kamehiro, The Arts of Kingship: Hawaiian Art and National Culture of the Kalākaua Era (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2009), 45-47. For an image of this cloak, see:

34 Norton, Illustrated Historical Register, 248.

35 James D. McCabe, The Illustrated History of the Centennial Exhibition (Philadelphia: The National Publishing Company, 1876), 425-26.

36 "The Sandwich Island[s] at the Centennial," Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia), June 1, 1876, 5.

37 "Hawaii: The Exhibits from the Sandwich Islands," Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia), June 1, 1876, 1. See also "The Hawaiian Island Exhibit," Evening Telegraph, May 12, 1876, 1.

38 An image of the painting appears at:'Hilo_Bay',_oil_painting_by_Joseph_Nawahi,_circa_1868,_Mission_Houses_Museum,_Honolulu.jpg.

39 Evening Bulletin, June 1, 1876, 5. Though, the Evening Telegraph was lightly critical of the painting's artistic merits (May 12, 1876, 1).

40 United States Centennial Commission. International Exhibition 1876. Official Catalog, Part I, 250-251.

41 Kalākaua ran against Queen Emma for the position of monarch in 1874. Many settlers favored Kalākaua, wary of what they perceived to be the queen's pro-British stance. See Ralph S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume III: 1874-1893, The Kalakaua Dynasty (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1967), 3-16.

42 Kuykendall, Ibid., 17-45.

43 Osorio, Dismembering Lāhui, 173-192.

44 Ibid., 193-249; Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume III, 366-72.

45 It seems Hawaiian exhibitions related to science, manufacturing, and agriculture were submitted to the Australian Centennial Exhibition at Melbourne, which was held at the same time as the Sydney fair. The Hawaiian displays at Melbourne were administered by H. H. Williams who had been appointed Hawaiian Commissioner to this exposition. See Pacific Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1888.

46 Quote from an article in the Town and Country Journal (Sydney) in "Hawaii in Australia. Represented at Two Exhibitions – Melbourne Centennial and Sydney Women's," Pacific Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1888.

47 For a description and image of this royal order medal, see

48 The Sydney Mail, October 20, 1888.

49 See "Classification of Exhibits," in John A. Hassinger, Catalogue of the Hawaiian Exhibits at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1889 (Honolulu: Hawaiian Gazette Company, 1889), 3.

50 Heather A. Diamond, in American Aloha: Cultural Tourism and Negotiation of Tradition (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008), 19-24, provides an excellent overview of Hawaiian participation in world fairs from 1885 to 1915. She offers, however, a very different reading of the 1889 Hawaiian exhibition at Paris. Relying on the published catalogue of the Hawaiian exhibit (Hassinger, Catalogue, 8-15), Diamond suggests organizers intended to present Native objects, old and new, as "historically embedded", showing "the Hawaiian elite…situated in an acculturated present" (19). Yet, the catalogue largely isolates items of Native manufacture into one, ethnically-defined classification, with many objects designated as "ancient" and without historical context. Given this textual presentation of the Native Hawaiian objects, in addition to their visual display as described above, it would seem that indigenous culture, history, and modernity were marginalized at the Paris exposition. She also indicates that Native contributors were individualized, listed by name in the catalogue as were non-indigenous exhibitors, and that the "Hawaiian Government" was credited as a major lender in contrast to what she characterizes as the more anonymous and exoticizing display of Native culture in the 1885 World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition hosted by New Orleans. While she argues that these attributions served to position "cultural authority and agency with the monarchy and [emphasized] that it was invested in creating a credible image for the kingdom through international representation" (19), it should be noted that individual lenders and the Hawaiian Government were also identified in the New Orleans catalogue. See The Hawaiian Exhibit at the World's Exposition[,] New Orleans, at Space LL, 10 (New Orleans: Hyman Smith, 1885), 10-18.

51 For a map of the concessions, see John J. Flinn (comp.), Official Guide to the Midway Plaisance Otherwise Known as "The Highway Through the Nations" (Chicago: The Columbian Guide Company, 1893). See also Diamond, American Aloha, 20.

52 Ibid., 26-27; Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume III, 115; Official Catalog of Exhibits on the Midway Plaisance[,] World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago: W. B. Conkey, 1893), 30. Thurston authored an adulatory biographical sketch of S. B. Dole, the first president of the provisional government that replaced the Hawaiian monarchy and, in 1894, president of the Republic of Hawai‘i, a position Thurston had declined. See Lorrin A. Thurston, "A Sketch of Sanford Ballard Dole to 1887," in Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution, by Sanford B. Dole (Honolulu: Advertiser Publishing Co., Ltd., 1936), ix-xv.

53 "Hawaii Among the Nations," 4.

54 Adria L. Imada, "Hawaiians on Tour: Hula Circuits through the American Empire," American Quarterly, 56 (2004): 117, 144-45. Another view of the exterior of the Kilauea cyclorama building displays a large sign advertising "Native Hula Hula Dancers"; see J. W. Buel, The Magic City: A Massive Portfolio of Original Photographic Views of the Great World's Fair (St. Louis: Historical Publishing Company, 1894). See Jane Desmond, Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 62-63, on how the hula at the Chicago exposition was associated with sexuality and lasciviousness. She also discusses the plethora of illustrated books published after the Spanish-American War that characterized the newly-acquired American territories (i.e., Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Hawai‘i) as feminized possessions (ibid., 49-50).

55 See Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994).



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