Pahoa lava museum fundraiser to feature pupus, presentation

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald John Stallman talks about the exhibit props inside the Pahoa Lava Zone Museum last week. The museum reopened recently and is hosting a fundraiser to commemorate the anniversary of the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald John Stallman prepares his presentation for the Pahoa Lava Zone Museum's fundraiser. The museum reopened recently and is hosting a fundraiser to commemorate the anniversary of the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

The Pahoa Lava Zone Museum will host a two-day fundraiser to commemorate its reopening and the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

The Lava Zone Museum reopened for visitors in early April after closing for over a year during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Now that visitors numbers are increasing, we thought it would be a good time to reopen the museum and help drive business back to Pahoa,” Amedeo Markoff said. “The businesses here are the backbone of the community, and we want to support them.”

Markoff is the president of the Mainstreet Pahoa Association, a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of businesses and the historic town.

On May 3-4, the museum will host an open house with pupus served by Kaleo’s Bar and Grill and a pay-as-you-go bar from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Museum curator John Stallman will then give an hourlong presentation about the 1960s Kilauea eruption.

“With anniversary coming up, we thought this would be a good opportunity to raise money for the museum while bringing the community together for a casual event downtown,” Stallman said.

The museum originally opened in December 2018 after the eruption of Kilauea, which destroyed hundreds of homes in neighborhoods across lower Puna.

The museum is home to artifacts, cultural art and historical information, as well as exhibit items from the damaged Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, which can no longer be visited inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

“There was a point in time when the national park was reaching out to our community and asking if there was anything they could do,” Markoff said. “We asked if we could house some of the exhibit props here to help revitalize downtown, and they agreed.”

With the reopening underway, Markoff and Stallman are looking toward future goals and are hoping to establish the museum as a larger visitor center.

“We want to service the community by teaching visitors how to be responsible tourists in Puna,” Stallman said. “Visitors want to come here and see the lava damage, but there is a way to do that respectfully for the people who lived through the eruption.”

For now, the museum will focus on talking story and educating visitors through its docents, which are residents who lived through and witnessed the eruption in 2018, Wednesdays through Sundays 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The May open house and presentation will cost $30 each, or $60 for both. Reservations are required since space is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

There also will be a livestream of the presentation, which will cost $25.


Email or message the museum on Facebook to reserve a spot for the fundraiser.

Email Kelsey Walling at

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