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Volcano Art Center Gallery to reopen in national park

  • Desiree Cruz
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Signage informs guests Wednesday that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is still closed for damage repairs. The park, as well as the Volcano Art Center Gallery in the park, will reopen Saturday.

When Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reopens Saturday, the Volcano Art Center also will reopen its gallery within the park.

Alyssa Johnasen, program manager at Volcano Art Center, said staff members and volunteers are in the process of returning the gallery’s art items to its location inside the park after having moved most of them to VAC’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village after the park closed in May because of the Kilauea volcano eruption in lower Puna.

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“It means a lot for the art community to be back,” said Desiree Cruz, former member of the art center’s board of directors. “We were able to move into the village, but having it in the park is a huge income generator.”

Cruz said the Niaulani space was unable to store all of the center’s “gazillion” art pieces, which range from small jewelry items to wall-spanning murals.

Fortunately, Johnasen said, none of the pieces were damaged by Kilauea’s increased seismic activity.

“None of them even fell from the walls,” she said, adding that the building itself sustained no noticeable damage.

Cruz said many of the art center’s featured artists are glad to finally see the gallery open again. VAC’s central location in the most-visited tourist attraction on the island provides a vital source of exposure for the island’s art community, many of whom live in Volcano.

“People have been asking, ‘Oh, are you closed, where are you, will you reopen?’” Cruz said. “It was a lot of questions in a short amount of time.”

In addition, Cruz said the park location is vital for a hula program that she leads, as the Niaulani Campus doesn’t have sufficient space.

Johnasen said the art center was forced to lay off some employees because of a decline in business during the park’s closure. However, the remaining employees will return to work full time when the park reopens.

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Volcano Art Center Gallery will return to normal hours — every day save Christmas from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. — starting Sunday. On Saturday, the center will open at 10 a.m., when the park does.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.