From the Mountain to the Ocean: Localizing a Database in Hawaiʻi

Lightning Talk

Thursday, April 02, 2020: 11:00am - 12:30pm -

Kristin Remington, Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, United States

Tracking and describing the locations of artwork in a collections management database is standard museum practice. Recording where an object can be found using cardinal directions is a common way to ensure locations are conveyed between the database and the user. However, the ability to orient oneself in Hawaiʻi utilizing Eurocentric directions of NESW proves to be an ineffective means of wayfinding in the islands.
When describing locations in Hawaiʻi, the use of mauka (mountain side) and makai (ocean side) is a more effective and culturally sensitive way of communicating directionality, in addition to the use of nearby natural landmarks. The use of mauka and makai from ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian Language) and local landmarks is so ingrained in the ability to communicate directionality in Hawaiʻi – that it even appears in official legal documents.
This presentation provides a case study which explores how the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture and Design in the the Kūpikipiki‘ō neighborhood, Waikīkī Ahupua‘a, Kona District of O‘ahu, chose to incorporate Hawaiian landmarks and key directional phrases from ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi into its TMS (The Museum System) Database as a way to localize collections management and communicate more effectively with all levels of its museum staff.