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The Honolulu Advertiser Honolulu, Hawai‘i

It can be said that W. Donald Duckworth dragged Hawai‘i’s Bishop Museum kicking and screaming from the 19th century into the 21st.

That is, in converting the museum from a traditional "storehouse" of historic and scientific riches into a living and breathing part of community culture, Duckworth had to kick out a lot of the past and endure more than his share of screaming.

There’s no doubt that Duckworth put the museum on a much stronger financial footing. It has won re-accreditation from the American Association of Museums.

And he introduced the museum and its collections to tens of thousands of Hawai‘i residents who had never before visited the venerable Kalihi institution.

But Duckworth’s efforts came at a cost. The museum’s worldwide scientific reputation suffered, as expensive curating and collecting efforts were downgraded to make room for better, brighter and more community-pleasing exhibits.

The museum’s stellar reputation for Pacific Islands research took a number of hits.

Duckworth this week told the museum’s board of directors he will retire.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for the board, which has largely allowed Duckworth to run the museum according to his vision over the past 16 years. The next director should be someone who can build on the firm foundation built by Duckworth and maintain the museum’s popular appeal, while re-energizing its scientific and research arms.

The Bishop Museum belongs not just to Hawai‘i, but to the entire Pacific. It deserves a leader who recognizes and honors that role.

For additional reports from The Honolulu Advertiser, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Honolulu Advertiser.

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