Visitors to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will enjoy a new welcoming experience upon entering the 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall, where they are greeted with the mist of Mauna Kea as they enter a realm of contemplation, the Piko‘i Theater.
The gallery is designed to guide visitors’ ascent through colorful graphic imagery reflecting Hawai Island’s natural life forms and ecosystems.
Journey from Hawaii’s deep sea realm, shoreline, forests, upper elevations and realm of mist to Mauna Kea’s summit. Walking through mist created by a fog screen, visitors transition into the darkness and calm of the theater.
“Fog screen technology uses ultrasound to create tiny water particles two to three microns in diameter that envelop visitors in the fine mist of Lilinoe, a Hawaiian deity that resides on Mauna Kea,” said Kalepa Baybayan, associate director. “The microscopic droplets feel dry to the touch, just like air.”
Once inside the theater, visitors watch an eight-minute time-lapse film projected onto a panoramic 20-foot screen. The mesmerizing film was produced by astronomer Jean-Charles Cuillandre with music by Kanoa Withington. The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corp. supported the film’s production.
Piko‘i refers to our connection to place, where we came from, origins and our environment. For many Hawaiians, Maunakea is the piko, point of connection to the Universe. Exiting ‘Imiloa’s new Piko‘i Theatre begins the journey of discovery of over 100 exhibits that focus on science and culture.