The Honolulu Museum of Art (formerly the Honolulu Academy of Arts) is an art museum in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The museum is the largest of its kind in the state, and was founded in 1922 by Anna Rice Cooke. The museum has one of the largest single collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the United States, and since its official opening on April 8, 1927, its collections have grown to more than 55,000 works of art.
The Honolulu Museum of Art was called “the finest small museum in the United Statesˮ by J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery of Art from 1969 to 1992. In addition to an internationally renowned permanent collection, the museum houses innovative exhibitions, an art school, an independent art house theatre, a café and a museum shop. In 2011, The Contemporary Museum gifted its assets and collection to the Honolulu Academy of Arts; in 2012, the combined museum changed its name to the Honolulu Museum of Art.
The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is registered as a National and State Historical site. In 1990, the Honolulu Museum of Art School was opened to expand the program of studio art classes and workshops. In 2001, the Henry R. Luce Pavilion Complex opened with the Honolulu Museum of Art Café, Museum Shop, and Henry R. Luce Wing with 8,000 square feet (740 m2) of gallery space.
Collections and holdings
The Honolulu Museum of Art has a large collection of Asian art, especially Japanese and Chinese works. The Asian art collection includes more than 20,000 works of art, with galleries dedicated to Japan, China, Korea, India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The collection is especially strong in Chinese and Japanese paintings, Korean ceramics, Buddhist and Shinto sculpture, South and Southeast Asian sculpture and decorative arts, and textiles from across Asia. The crown jewel of the Asian art collection is the James A. Michener Collection of more than 10,000 Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, the third largest collection of its kind in the United States.Major collections include the Samuel H. Kress collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, American and European paintings and decorative arts, art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, textiles, contemporary art, and a graphics collection of over 23,000 works on paper.
The museum’s European and American collection of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, and more than 15,000 works on paper, range in date from the Renaissance to the present. Highlights are major Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early modernist paintings by Georges Braque, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and James McNeill Whistler. Significant works of art from the 20th century to the present include paintings and sculptures by Lee Bontecou, Alexander Calder, Leon Golub, Philip Guston, Yan Pei Ming, Isamu Noguchi, Nam June Paik, John Singer Sargent and David Smith.
The Department of European and American Art has paintings by Josef Albers, Francis Bacon, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Romare Bearden, Jean-Baptiste Belin, Bernardino di Betti (called Pinturicchio), Abraham van Beyeren, Albert Bierstadt, Carlo Bonavia, Pierre Bonnard, François Boucher, Aelbrecht Bouts, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Giorgio de Chirico, Frederic Edwin Church, Jacopo di Cione, Edwaert Colyer, John Singleton Copley, Piero di Cosimo, Gustave Courbet, Carlo Crivelli, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Henri-Edmond Cross, Stuart Davis, Edgar Degas, Eugène Delacroix, Robert Delaunay, Richard Diebenkorn, Arthur Dove, Thomas Eakins, Henri Fantin-Latour, Helen Frankenthaler, Bartolo di Fredi, Jan van Goyen, Francesco Granacci, Childe Hassam, Hans Hofmann, Pieter de Hooch, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Philip Guston, William Harnett, George Inness, Alex Katz, Paul Klee, Nicolas de Largillière, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Morris Louis, Maximilien Luce, Alessandro Magnasco, Robert Mangold, the Master of 1518, Pierre Mignard, Claude Monet, Thomas Moran, Giovanni Battista Moroni, Grandma Moses, Robert Motherwell, Alice Neel, Kenneth Noland, Georgia O'Keeffe, Amédée Ozenfant, Charles Willson Peale, James Peale, Camille Pissarro, Fairfield Porter, Robert Priseman, Robert Rauschenberg, Odilon Redon, Diego Rivera, George Romney, Francesco de' Rossi (called Il Salviati), Carlo Saraceni, Gino Severini, Frank Stella, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Yves Tanguy, Jan Philips van Thielen, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Bartolomeo Vivarini, Maurice de Vlaminck and William Guy Wall.
The collection also includes three-dimensional works by Alexander Archipenko, Robert Arneson, Leonard Baskin, Lee Bontecou, Émile Antoine Bourdelle, Nick Cave, Dale Chihuly, John Talbott Donoghue, Jacob Epstein, David Hockney, Donald Judd, Jun Kaneko, Gaston Lachaise, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Roy Lichtenstein, Jacques Lipschitz, Aristide Maillol, John McCracken, Claude Michel (called Clodion), Henry Moore, Elie Nadelman, George Nakashima, Louise Nevelson, Hiram Powers, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, George Rickey, Auguste Rodin, James Rosati, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Lucas Samaras, George Segal, Mark di Suvero, Tom Wesselmann and Jack Zajac. The permanent collection is presented in 32 galleries and six courtyards.
The museum traces the history of art in Hawai‘i, with a gallery dedicated to Hawaiian traditional arts, art by Hawai‘i artists, and art of Hawai‘i.
The permanent collection is presented in 32 galleries and six courtyards.
The Honolulu Museum of Art occupies 3.2 acres (13,000 m2) near downtown Honolulu.
The museum is open to the public Thursday through Sunday. Admission is free to members, children 18 & under and for some events, but otherwise a fee is charged. Complimentary admission is offered to Hawai‘i residents on the third Sunday of the month from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Guided tours are offered several times daily.
The museum is open: Thursday 10 am - 6 pm, Friday 10 am - 9 pm, Saturday 10 am - 9 pm, Sunday 10 am - 6 pm. Closed Monday - Wednesday.
Doris Duke Theatre
The Doris Duke Theatre at the museum seats 280. It hosts movies, concerts, lectures, and presentations.
Robert Allerton Art Library
In 1927, the Research Library opened with 500 books. In 1955, it was expanded and named for Robert Allerton. The collection includes 45,000 books and periodicals, biographical files on artists, and auction catalogues dating to the beginning of the 20th century. The library is a non-circulating research facility with a reading room open to the public.
Honolulu Museum of Art School
Education has been at the core of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s mission since it opened in 1927. Today the museum serves more than 40,000 children and adults annually through free school tours, classes and workshops, outreach programs, activity-filled free museum days, free lectures, and other special programming held throughout the year.
The Honolulu Museum of Art School (formerly the Academy Art Center at Linekona) opened in 1990, and now serves thousands of children and adults each year.
The Honolulu Museum of Art School is currently undergoing renovations, and is set to reopen in summer 2022.
Shangri La: Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
Shangri La is a museum for learning about the global culture of Islamic art and design through innovative exhibitions, educational initiatives, public programs, and community partnerships. Through a partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA), visitors may tour Shangri La. Reservations are required.Doris Duke (1912–1993) built Shangri La with the help of American architect Marion Sims Wyeth. Duke's collection of Islamic art was assembled over 60 years.
Anna Rice Cooke (1853–1934), daughter of New England missionaries and founder of the Honolulu Museum of Art, in her dedication statement at the opening of the museum on April 8, 1927, said:
"That our children of many nationalities and races, born far from the centers of art, may receive an intimation of their own cultural legacy and wake to the ideals embodied in the arts of their neighbors ... that Hawaiians, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Northern Europeans and all other people living here, contacting through the channel of art those deep intuitions common to all, may perceive a foundation on which a new culture, enriched by the old strains may be built in the islands." —Anna Rice CookeBorn on Oʻahu in 1853, Cooke grew up on Kauaʻi island in a home that appreciated the arts. In 1874, she married Charles Montague Cooke and the two eventually settled in Honolulu. In 1882, they built a home on Beretania Street, across from Thomas Square. As Cooke's career prospered, they gathered their private art collection. First were "parlor pieces" for their home. She frequented the shop of furniture maker Yeun Kwock Fong Inn who often had ceramics and textile pieces sent from his brother in China.
The Cookes’ art collection outgrew their home and the homes of their children. In 1920, she and her daughter Alice (Mrs. Phillip Spalding), her daughter-in-law Dagmar (Mrs. Richard Cooke), and Catharine E. B. Cox (Mrs. Isaac Cox), an art and drama teacher, began to catalogue and research the collection with the intent to display the items in a museum.
With little formal training, these women obtained a charter for the museum from the Territory of Hawaii in 1922, while continuing to catalogue the collection. Cooke wanted a museum that reflected Hawaiʻi's multi-cultural make-up. Not bound by the traditional western idea of art museums, she also wanted to showcase the island's climate in an open and airy environment, using courtyards which interconnect the galleries throughout the museum.
The Cookes donated their Beretania Street land along with an endowment of $25,000. Their home was torn down to make way for the museum. New York architect Bertram Goodhue designed a classic Hawaiian-style building with simple off-white exteriors and tiled roofs. Goodhue died before the project was completed; it was finished by Hardie Phillip. This style has been imitated in many buildings throughout the state.
On April 8, 1927, the Honolulu Museum of Art opened. There was a traditional Hawaiian blessing and the Royal Hawaiian Band, under the direction of Henri Berger, played at festivities. With the opening of the museum came gifts of many pieces, sometimes even entire collections. Additions to the original building include a library (1956), an education wing (1960), a gift shop (1965), a cafe (1969), a contemporary gallery, administrative offices and 292-seat theater (1977), and an art center for studio classes and expanded educational programming (1989). In 1999, the museum created a children's interactive gallery, lecture hall, and offices.The original building was named Hawaiʻi's best building by the Hawaiʻi Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture and is registered as a National and State Historical site. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
In 1998, extensive renovation began starting with the Asian wing. In September 1999, construction began on the John Hara-designed Henry R. Luce Pavilion Complex, which opened May 13, 2001. It includes expanded spaces for The Pavilion Café and The Museum Shop and a new two-story exhibition structure. The Luce Complex is named for Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor of Time Magazine and other publications. His widow, Clare Boothe Luce, had a residence in Hawaiʻi and served on the museum's board of trustees from 1972–1977.
New galleries exploring cross-cultural influences, were renovated and re-opened in the Western Wing in November 1999. A new gallery for Korean art was opened in June 2001. New galleries for the arts of India, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia were renovated and opened in January 2002. A new gallery for the art of the Philippines named for retiring Museum Director and his wife, George and Nancy Ellis, opened in 2003. In February 2005, the museum opened an Asian Painting Conservation Studio and in December 2005, completed renovation of the Western Art galleries.
In 2001, the museum entered into a partnership with the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and the theater was refurbished and renamed for her in July 2002. In October 2002, the museum opened a new gallery that serves as the orientation center for all tours to Doris Duke's Honolulu estate Shangri La, which started on November 6, 2002.
Due to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic the museum laid off one third of its full-time workers & every seasonal worker that worked part time to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on April 17, 2020.
The Contemporary Museum and Honolulu Academy of Arts Merge
The former Contemporary Museum, Honolulu in Makiki Heights was integrated into the Honolulu Academy of Arts in July 2011. The Academy's board of trustees voted in December 2011 to change the museum's public name to the Honolulu Museum of Art as of March 2012, retaining its legal name as the Honolulu Academy of Arts. The former Contemporary Museum, or Spalding House, became the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House, the Art Center at Linekona became the Honolulu Museum of Art School, and The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center became the Honolulu Museum of Art at First Hawaiian Center.
Sale of Spalding House
On July 16, 2019, the museum announced that its board of trustees would be selling Spalding House in an effort to "allow the museum to focus its resources on its main campus at Beretania Street."Interim director and trustee, Mark Burak, stated: "From a fiduciary standpoint, we’ve taken a very long and hard look at this from all angles. While the Spalding House property’s beauty and historic significance make it hard to part with, it has also been challenging splitting our attention between two large, resource-intensive art campuses, one limited by several factors that have made it difficult to deliver the kind of quality art exhibitions, programs and services we have desired.”
Trustee and chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee, Jim Pierce, added: "The committee concluded unanimously that it would be to the long-term benefit of HoMA to prepare Spalding House for sale. We are fortunate to have a board and employees who carefully evaluate all options for the future and are continually making changes to ensure that we maintain the solid financial footing necessary to fulfill our mission. Making and enabling this decision has been determined to represent good business practice for the long term.” said Jim Pierce, trustee and chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee, in the release.
Following these comments regarding the fiduciary responsibility of the Board, many community members speculated on well-being of the institution. In his editorial, Loss Of Spalding House A Reminder Old Money Alone Won’t Sustain The Arts, Sterling Higa speculated on the financial history of the institution, wide spread urban development across Honolulu, and the arrival of new foreign investment. He writes: "Our islands play host to out-of-state wealth. Japanese, Canadian and Chinese money pours in. Silicon Valley billionaires plant roots. Given the context, it seems likely that Spalding House will be sold to a foreign buyer, and the grounds will no longer be accessible to the general public. We can pray for salvation, but salvation may not come. Better to hope that the new oligarchy is as generous as the old oligarchy, which bequeathed us relics like Spalding House.
Halona Norton-Westbrook: 2020 to present
Sean O’Harrow: 2017 to 2019
Stephan Jost: 2011 to 2016
Stephen Little: 2003 to 2010
George R. Ellis: 1982 to 2003
James W. Foster: 1963 to 1982
Robert P. Griffing, Jr.: 1947 to 1963
Edgar C. Schenck: 1935 to 1947
Kathrine McLane Jenks: 1929 to 1935
Catharine E. B. Cox: 1927 to 1928
Frank M. Moore: 1924 to 1927
Education has always been an integral part of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s mission. Working closely with educators and schools, the museum provides tools and experiences to make visual art a foundational element of learning. The museum's education programs include guided tours, workshops, gallery classes, and children's art activities. School programs include art classes for Special Education students and programs for students in Hawaiʻi public schools, which combine museum tours and hands-on experience creating art in studio classes at the art center. Its educational resources support educators, collectors, students, members, artists and art historians with a small library and a non-reservation collection.
Docents conduct tours for the public, school groups (pre-school and up), and community organizations. Groups of ten or more persons and classes are requested to schedule tours at least two weeks in advance.Special tours, focusing on temporary exhibitions often include supplementary materials and activities, some especially designed for children. Workshops for teachers and other educators may also be offered.
Theme tours concentrate on a specific country, region, time period, art movement, or groups of artists.
Gallery Hunt Activity Sheets send visitors through the galleries to find certain works of art that focus on a theme.
Working with the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and Hawai'i public schools, the museum provides art education programs for students across the state.
Other educational resources
The Robert Allerton Art Research Library is open to college-level students, members, and other adults for art historical research. It is a non-circulating collection of over 40,000 volumes in a closed stack system and includes general reference materials, museum archives, artist files, and auction catalogues. Free Internet access is provided.
Lending Collection: Art objects, crafts and folk arts from around the world, books, and art work reproductions are some of the many items available for loan in the Lending Collection. The Lending Collection is available to schools, libraries, and other community organizations.
Luce Pavilion Complex
The Luce Pavilion complex, opened May 13, 2001, includes a new cafe, gift shop, and a two-story building with two 4,000-square-foot (370 m2) galleries. Other facilities include underground storage, loading dock, dry-pipe fire sprinklers, vertical transportation systems for passengers, remote video broadcast capabilities, conservation lighting control systems, and climate control system. The Luce Pavilion Complex is completely wheelchair accessible. The project cost over $9 million.
The complex added 26,000 square feet (2,400 m2), increasing the museum size to 143,000 square feet (13,300 m2).
The Luce Foundation donated $3.5 million towards the construction of the complex.
Ground breaking ceremonies for the complex were held on September 23, 1999, and grand opening was May 13, 2001.
The Henry R. Luce Gallery holds traveling exhibitions.
The John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery
The second floor gallery of the Henry R. Luce Wing in the Luce Pavilion Complex houses works from the museum’s Arts of Hawai‘i collection. The John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery includes an introduction to indigenous Hawaiian art, early Western views of Hawaiʻi, and the art of contemporary Hawaiʻi-based artists. The gallery reflects changing life and landscapes of post European-contact Hawaiʻi as well as its exploration of Hawaiʻi's changing artistic traditions as Island communities grew and became less isolated during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Early views of Hawaiʻi, dating from the last decades of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, by expedition artists such as England's John Webber and Robert Dampier, France's Auguste Borget and Stanislaus Darondeau, and Russia's Louis Choris, present images of the Western world's first contact with Hawaiʻi. Nineteenth-century images by European artists such as George Burgess, Paul Emmert, Nicholas Chevalier, and James Gay Sawkins, who passed through Hawaiʻi, show the growth of Western-style communities and an appreciation for the land and sea.
The Holt Gallery also features painting, watercolors, drawings, prints and photographs by artists such as Enoch Wood Perry, Jules Tavernier, D. Howard Hitchcock, John La Farge, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Roi Partridge, and Jean Charlot. Works by Hawaiʻi-born artists including Marguerite Louis Blasingame, Isami Doi, Hon Chew Hee, Cornelia MacIntyre Foley, and Keichi Kimura reveal the development of an indigenous modernist tradition in 20th century Hawaiʻi, and include today's contemporary artists including Lisa Reihana, James Jack and Yan Pei Ming. Other regional artists in the collection include Charles W. Bartlett, Juliette May Fraser, Shirley Russell, Madge Tennent, and John Young.
The John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery also features space for changing exhibitions which focus on the arts of Hawaiʻi.
The Holt Gallery was named for John Dominis Holt and his late wife Frances "Patches" Damon Holt. John Dominis Holt was born to part-Hawaiian parents of aliʻi rank. He learned the religion, customs, mythology, and the Hawaiian language. By the time he was a teen, he was already a genealogist.
Honorary trustee of the museum and wife of John Dominis Holt, Frances "Patches" Damon Holt was actively involved in many cultural projects. Descendant of a missionary family and a graduate of Punahou School, she received a law degree from Columbia University and was educated in England. Together with her older sister, Harriet Baldwin, she helped to oppose the H-3 project through Moanalua Valley. They also established a foundation to help preserve cultural and environmental values.
HoMA Café & Coffee Bar
The café was established in 1969. It had a simple menu and for over twenty years was operated by volunteers. Professional management and staff were gradually added. In September 1999, the café was moved during construction of the Luce Pavilion Complex, and more than doubled in size to 3,100 square feet (290 m2). It overlooks a granite fountain with reflection pond and sculptures by Jun Kaneko.The HoMA Café offers casual, contemporary cuisine and refreshments along with a signature island-style hospitality, perfectly complementing the museum experience. The open-air Café is a designated ocean-friendly restaurant, committed to operating as sustainably as possible.
The Coffee Bar is located outdoors in the museum's Palm Courtyard, with a selection of coffee and tea drinks, beer and wines, and grab-and-go menu items.
There is no museum admission charge to dine at the Café during lunch hours.