A Message From


Out the “ashes” of an old city incinerator was born a dream . . . literally. To say that the story of the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center is a unique one would be an understatement.

Formerly known as the Hawaii Children’s Museum, housed in the Dole Pineapple Cannery in Iwilei, the storefront facility quickly outgrew its audience of families with young children and throngs of schoolchildren who lined up at the door to visit the 5,000 square-foot museum. The museum started and staffed initially by volunteers, needed to find a permanent home.

In 1998, the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center rose from the renovated and expanded shell of an old incinerator next to a city landfill near downtown Honolulu. Today, the landfill has been transformed into a waterfront park, and the incinerator is now a beehive of activity for children from across the Hawaiian Islands. 

Its staggered three levels rise gently, housing 45,000 square feet of high-tech, interactive exhibits, divided among four major themed “galleries.” The only reminder of the facilities former life as an incinerator is a remnant smokestack, under whose shadow the Discovery Center sits.

The symbolism of that transformation from an incinerator to a world-class children’s “museum” is not lost on those closest to the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center and who know its history. And perhaps it is appropriate that the realization of a dream, a decade in the making, would rise out of the ashes of a discarded entity.

The Children’s Discovery Center is the culmination of nearly 30 years of hard work, love, commitment and dedication by a core group of volunteers, along with the generosity of corporations, charitable foundations and caring individuals in the community. The fact that the Center operates so successfully in the manner in which it does (with limited staff and resources) is a testament to sheer grit, ingenuity, determination and a lot of tough love from a very few. It is the only children’s museum in the country that started in a pineapple cannery and ended up in a city incinerator!

The Children’s Discovery Center, “Hawaii’s Rainbow Connection to the world,” is a legacy of love for the children and families of Hawaii. What was once a dream has indeed become a wonderful reality. We have an opportunity to keep that dream alive for all of Hawaii’s keiki o ka aina (children of the land). We’d like to share that opportunity with you. I hope you can find the time to come and play!

With Aloha,

Loretta Yajima
Founder, Children’s Discovery Center