The National Park of American Samoa has expanded their visitor center in Pago Pago by over 700 square feet, adding some very special exhibits and demonstrations.
The new exhibits showcase the cultural heritage and natural history of Samoa. The centerpiece of the new exhibits features a sperm whale skull.
In 2015 a Sperm Whale carcass washed up in the park in Ofu. Park staff spent over 3 years preparing the bones for display and designing and installing an exhibit.
The new exhibit features a seven foot skull, jaw and teeth; and multiple panels and video screens tell the story of whales and dolphins in Samoa.
“When that whale washed up we saw a unique opportunity to highlight a species that often visits but is seldom seen in Samoa,” Park Superintendent Scott Burch said about the new exhibit.
“In the next year or so we have plans to add the full skeleton and other related exhibits about the science of understanding whales, helping local families connect with the magic of the sea out our front door.”
The park partners with the fine arts department of the American Samoa Community College and other local artisans including the American Samoan Government Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA) to bring Samoan traditions to life.
Exhibits feature a six foot by six foot siapo (tapa cloth) created by local community college students and an ‘enu fish basket woven with traditional materials by a local craftsman.
Every morning, traditional weavers join park staff in the visitor center to talk about the importance of weaving to Samoan traditions while giving live demonstrations of their craft.
The National Park of American Samoa Visitor Center is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.