History

Volcano Art Center Gallery is located in the 1877 Volcano House Hotel under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service. Centered at Kilauea, home to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of the volcano, of creativity, of Fire, Volcano Art Center Gallery has been a mecca for visual artists since 1974. This dynamic and powerful environment has inspired the Hawaiian people and their crafts, songs, dances, and legends for centuries. Today, the Kilauea region continues to draw artists, performers, writers, scientists, and educators from around the world to create, reflect, learn and embrace the beauty and power of the natural world.

VAC’s Evolution as Forest Stewards

VAC inherited Niaulani upon securing a 65-year lease from the State of Hawaii in 1996. It had been designated a Forest Reserve beginning in the 1920’s due to its old growth koa and ohia canopy, and part of the contractual agreement was for our organization to continue the generational legacy of stewardship set forth by state foresters. While Niaulani supported old-growth trees that had been historically harvested for various purposes elsewhere in the Kilauea Summit region, much work had to be done eliminating invasive plant and animal species on the forest floor to bolster its overall biodiversity. VAC constituents, comprised of local artisans and naturalists, began tending to the land years before educational facilities were built on the periphery of the five acre forest.

As the years progressed, several educational and community groups became involved with helping restore Niaulani to its pre-invasive species-ravaged state. Many of these groups, notably Pacific Quest and Kamehameha Schools, still contribute to the average 600 annual volunteer hours needed to maintain and revamp Niaulani Rain Forest.

Private, individual donations as well as grant funding from Hawaii Tourism Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Patagonia have enabled VAC to offer forest restoration activities and guided tours to residents and visitors alike.

Niaulani is now an ideal model of a diverse, old-growth native Hawaiian rain forest and VAC is honored to be a steward of such a valuable cultural, spiritual, and environmental resource.