Set on the rim of the giant Kilauea Caldera atop the Big Island’s Kilauea Volcano, the Jaggar Museum provides insight into how volcanoes work. Glimpse into the history and behavior of volcanoes, see the seismometers registering rumbles of the Earth, and then look outside at a massive steaming crater right before your eyes.
Jaggar Museum is named after Dr. Thomas Augustus Jaggar, a scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jaggar moved to Kilauea volcano in 1912 and devoted his life to studying volcanoes. He first proposed the idea of creating a museum in 1916. The goal was to help the general public understand the inner workings of volcanoes.
Interpretive displays and exhibits at the museum include everything from working scientific equipment and historic artifacts to a vulcanologist’s protective suit. Step outside onto the public observation deck for dramatic views of Kilauea Caldera and the Halemaumau Crater.
On display at the Jaggar Museum are all the different types of lava including the rough and jagged a’a and the smooth and ropy pahoehoe as well as the pumice created when the lava has a high gas content. Also on display are the “volcanic bombs” which were shot through the air, the wispy Pele’s hair and the poignant Pele’s tears.
The Jaggar Museum and gift shop are open daily from 8:30 am to 8 pm.
To reach the Jaggar Museum from Hilo follow the Mamalahoa Hwy. (Hwy. 11) to just past the 28-mile marker where the left turn lane leads to the entrance of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Then follow Crater Rim Drive for two miles.
From Kailua-Kona follow Hwy. 11 to just past the 29 Mile Marker, turn right into the park and follow Crater Rim Drive for two miles to the Museum. Nearby is the Kilauea Visitor Center and the Volcano House Hotel.