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Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum

The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum celebrates and preserves the long history of sugar cane plantations and sugar processing mills in the four major sugar island communities of Puʻunene, Hawaii, Kahului, and Maui. The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum depicts the growing, harvesting, and milling of sugar crops that negatively affected the Hawaiian landscape and the island’s air quality by burning the cane fields – a necessary task that leaves only the sugar-bearing stalk for harvest.

The museum is named after the co-founders Samuel Thomas Alexander and Dwight Baldwin of Hawaii, two influential agricultural businessmen who sought to exploit Hawaii’s ideal, year-round climate and compete with leading sugarcane economies like Brazil, India, and Thailand.

The Hawaiian sugarcane industry would last for 168 years and become second only to the state’s export of pineapples. The museum highlights the labor-intensive sugarcane harvesting process that required the constant import of laborers from overseas and drove a population explosion of about 340,000 more people from the mid-1800s onward.

Visitors to the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum can view the Founder’s Room, which explores the founder’s industrial legacy and business partnership that is notable for providing some of the highest wages for workers globally and the development of advanced irrigation systems.

A visit to the museum’s Mill Room offers interactive displays with fitting narration, lighting, and sound effects. A scale model of an actual cane-crushing machine and a 1915 locomotive bell acknowledge the influence of the rail industry on the success of the sugar industry.

The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum’s Field Work Room is a great place to get an in-depth view of how plantation workers lived and worked in the fields. At one time, sugarcane fields stretched from the mountains to the sea, and the Field Work Room gives an inside look at how sugarcane plantation laborers lived and worked. View displays of historical surveying tools and equipment, a sugarcane cutting knife, a “kau kau tin” (a double-decker tin canned lunch box), and a Japanese woman’s entire outfit.

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