Maui Arts & Entertainment

Window Into Lahaina’s Past: Free Historic Photo Exhibit on Baldwin Home Lawn

October 18, 2020, 8:45 AM HST
* Updated October 17, 5:55 PM
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Historic exhibits happen every Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Baldwin Home Museum. PC: Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

Black and white photos from the collection of Loli Nakamoto and Naoki Kutsunai will be featured at the weekly Art Night historic exhibit on the front lawn of the Baldwin Home Museum during the month of October.

The exhibit will be on display from 5 to 8 p.m. every Friday during the festive Friday Night is Art Night in Lahaina events. Admission is free.

The photos of landmark buildings and memorable Lahaina scenes were taken between the 1920s and the 1940s. They demonstrate a mastery of composition, light and contrast and are a window into Lahaina’s past. The imposing Māla Wharf, Front Street with a handful of vintage automobiles, the sprawling Pioneer Mill Hospital that occupied a corner of what is now the Outlets of Maui are some of the idyllic scenes portrayed.

Both Nakamura and Kutsunai were studio photographers by trade, making their living taking photos of babies on their first birthday, newly married couples, and families in their “Sunday best.” In the studio, they used a view camera on a wooden frame which was 5 ½ feet tall. This intriguing camera will also be at the exhibit.

Out in the field, however, they switched to a rolleiflex camera that hung on a strap around the photographers’ neck. The rolleiflex had two lenses of identical focal length. One lens transmitted the image to the film and the other lenses functioned as a viewfinder for the photographer.

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During the war years, when Maui became a R&R destination for the US Pacific Fleet, Naoki Kutsunai made his photos into postcards that the homesick sailors sent home to their loved ones. Thus, the first iconic images of Lahaina and Hawaiʻi made their way into mainland homes.

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Friday Night is Art Night also features a candle lit tour of the historic Baldwin Home. Each 20 minute tour is limited to five people and costs $5 per person with children 12 and under free. Tickets may be purchased on site or via the Lahaina Restoration Foundation website where a listing of galleries participating in Friday Night is Art Night can also be found.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation coordinates the Friday Night is Art Night event, the Candle Lit Tour and the historic displays.

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