Could Hawaii get ukulele museum and Hall of Fame?

Could Hawaii get ukulele museum and Hall of Fame?

Hisako Sekiguchi of the Ukulele Foundation of Hawaii will soon open an ukulele studio and cross-cultural store on Kalakaua Avenue near the Hawaii Convention Center.

Accompanying the new studio is talk of possibly locating an ukulele museum and Hall of Fame in Hawaii, although discussions are very preliminary.

To keep her new neighbors happy, Sekiguchi has hired a crew this weekend to soundproof her new space, which she estimates will be ready for clients in about four weeks.

“It’s small place in Century Center,” she said of the 575-square-foot condo office. “My dream is to have a music school in Hawaii, so of course ukulele. We have already opened a school and studio in Tokyo 16 years ago. It is popular, my ukulele and teddy bear store.”

Ukulele is highly popular in Japan, she said. An annual Ukulele Picnic in Yokohama draws about 100,000 fans.

Sekiguchi said she began speculating about opening a business in Hawaii about two years ago and talked with the state about its requirements. Her speculation came to a halt, however, following Japan’s devastating earthquakes and tsunamis.

Now, Sekiguchi and Tom Walsh of the Ukulele Hall of Fame in New Jersey are talking about the possibility of combining their interests and opening an ukulele museum somewhere in Hawaii.

Walsh, a board member of the Ukulele Hall of Fame, said the hall has no permanent, open-to-the-public locale to display collections. Rather, members of the nonprofit organization travel to expos and shows and set up displays.

“It just seems like Hawaii is where it should be, and I think a lot more people would visit it there than in New Jersey,” he said. “But we don’t have the bankroll to purchase land in Hawaii. It would require a great deal of fundraising to do that.”

Sekiguchi and Walsh plan to meet and discuss the possibility of opening the state’s only ukulele museum while Walsh is visiting Hawaii for the Ukulele Festival on July 22.

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