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The Honolulu Museum of Art
Honolulu Museum of Art - entrance veranda.JPG
Established 1922
Location 900 South Beretania Street (between Ward and Victoria Streets), Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu Academy of Arts
Honolulu Museum of Art is located in Hawaii
Honolulu Museum of Art
Location in Hawaii
Location 900 S. Beretania St.,
Honolulu, Hawaii
Built 1927
Architect Bertram Goodhue
Architectural style Hawaiian
NRHP reference No. 72000415
Added to NRHP March 25, 1972

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 50,000 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. It presents international caliber special exhibitions and features a collection that includes Hokusai, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso and Warhol, as well as traditional Asian and Hawaiian art. 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

Mrs Thomas Lincoln Manson Jr by John Singer Sargent
Mrs. Thomas Lincoln Manson Jr (Mary Groot) 1890, by John Singer Sargent. Oil on canvas (56.06" x 44.25")

The Honolulu Museum of Art has a large collection of Asian art, especially Japanese and Chinese works. 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. Other collections include the James A. Michener collection of ukiyo-e prints and the Hawaiian art collection, which chronicles the history of art in Hawaiʻi.

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, Georges Braque, 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, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, 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, Fernand Léger, Morris Louis, Maximilien Luce, Alessandro Magnasco, Robert Mangold, the Master of 1518, Henri Matisse, Pierre Mignard, Amedeo Modigliani, 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, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Fairfield Porter, Robert Priseman, Robert Rauschenberg, Odilon Redon, Diego Rivera, George Romney, Francesco de' Rossi (called Il Salviati), Carlo Saraceni, John Singer Sargent, Gino Severini, Frank Stella, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Yves Tanguy, Jan Philips van Thielen, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Bartolomeo Vivarini, Maurice de Vlaminck, William Guy Wall and James McNeill Whistler.

The collection also includes three-dimensional works by Alexander Archipenko, Robert Arneson, Leonard Baskin, Lee Bontecou, Émile Antoine Bourdelle, Alexander Calder, 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, Isamu Noguchi, Hiram Powers, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, George Rickey, Auguste Rodin, James Rosati, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Lucas Samaras, George Segal, David Smith, Mark di Suvero, Tom Wesselmann and Jack Zajac. 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 Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free to members, children and for some events, but otherwise a fee is charged. Some events and certain days offer free admission to all. Guided tours are offered several times daily. Tours in the Japanese language, for the hearing impaired and specialty group tours for 10 or more are also available.


The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday.

Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House

The museum's second location, Spalding House (formerly The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu), is located in Makiki Heights and includes galleries, a café, and a sculpture garden. On permanent view is David Hockney's installation "L'enfant et les sortilèges," the artist's interpretation of his original stage designs for the 1981 Metropolitan Opera production.

Doris Duke Theatre

The Doris Duke Theatre at the museum seats 280. It hosts movies, concerts, lectures, and presentations. The theatre is also home to Hawaii's GLBT film festival the Rainbow Film Festival. It is currently run by Theatre Manager, Taylour Chang.

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 museum has over 8,000 woodblock prints, many of which were gifts from James A. Michener. More than 2,000 Japanese ukiyo-e prints are digitized and available for viewing online. The library is a non-circulating research facility. The library reading room is open on Wednesdays.

Honolulu Museum of Art School

Arts education is another facet of the museum. The Honolulu Museum of Art School (formerly the Academy Art Center at Linekona) offers studio art classes and workshops, and hosts exhibitions showcasing the island's folk and contemporary artists. The school offers arts education programs for children with special needs and public school students and maintains a lending collection for educators, students, and community groups.

Shangri La: Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art

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 Cooke

Born 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.

Shakyamuni and the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, Korea, Chosôn Dynasty, 16th Cent., ink, color & gold on silk
Gautama Buddha and the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, Korea, Joseon Dynasty, 16th century

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 museum's permanent collection grew to over 38,000 pieces with significant holdings in Asian art, American and European painting and decorative arts, 19th- and 20th-century art, an extensive collection of works on paper, Asian textiles, and traditional works from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

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 Pearce, 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.


  • Frank Montague Moore (1924–1927)
  • Mrs. Isaac M. Cox (1927–1928)
  • Mrs. Livingston Jenks (1929–1935)
  • Edgar C. Schenck (1935–1947)
  • Robert P. Griffing, Jr. (1947–1963)
  • James W. Foster (1963–1982)
  • George R. Ellis (1982–2003)
  • Stephen Little (2003–2010)
  • Stephan Jost (2011–2016)
  • Sean O'Harrow (2017-2019)
  • Mark Burak (2019).


The museum's Education Department programs include guided tours, workshops, gallery classes, and children's art activities. Docents are trained to provide gallery tours for the Tea and Tour and Movie and Art Talk programs as well as educational activities such as Keiki-Parent Activity Tours and art experiences for seniors.


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. In a program called Tour and Tea, docents lead discussions in the galleries followed by iced tea in the courtyard. An introductory tour called Treasures of the museum highlights selected works in the permanent collection.

Special tours, focusing on temporary exhibitions often include supplementary materials and activities, some especially designed for children. Workshops and exhibition previews 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. Museum tours may be customized to correspond to the specific requirement of a class or group.

A training program preparing volunteers to provide docent-guided tours is held only when needed. The four-semester course includes an overview of the museum's collections and programs and a survey of world art. Docent Council meetings are conducted throughout the year along with continuing education of the museum collections and special training sessions for all major and traveling exhibitions.

Movie and Art Talk

Art documentaries are shown on selected Wednesday afternoons in the Education Lecture Hall. Following the film, docents connect the film to the museum collection and continue with a discussion in the gallery.


Families with children can pick up materials at the front desk. Keiki Kit include booklets with stories to read, games and puzzles to solve, and a take-home activity. Gallery Hunt Activity Sheets send the families through the galleries to find certain works of art that focus on a theme. After reading a brief paragraph to learn about the work of art, and answering some questions, children win a prize.

Working with the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and Oʻahu public schools, the museum provides art education programs for selected 5th graders and special education students.

The Ambassador program includes three parts. First, an Ambassador brings a museum-in-a-box to the classroom. Next, students tour appropriate galleries at the museum. Finally an Ambassador leads an art project in the classroom. Ambassador Program themes include: East meets West, Hawaiʻi and Its People, Art of the Philippines, Animals in Art, and Animals in Art for Special Education, Art of the Ancient World, and Art of the Pacific.

Other educational resources

Hemis (home dance) kachina, Arizona, Hopi people, Honolulu Museum of Art
Hemis (home dance) kachina doll, Arizona, Hopi people in the Honolulu Museum of Art

The museum's educational resources support educators, collectors, students, members, artists and art historians with a small library and a non-reservation collection.

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. Located in the basement of the Museum Art Center at Linekona, the Lending Collection is available to schools, libraries, and other community organizations.

Educational programs

School programs include art classes for Special Education students and programs for fifth graders in Hawaiʻi public schools, which combine museum tours and hands-on experience creating art in studio classes at the art center.


The center features exhibitions throughout the year for original local artworks. Traveling exhibitions, and works by Hawaiʻi's contemporary artists, folk artists, and young people are often offered along with supplementary workshops and lectures by mainland and neighbor island artists.

Lending collection

The Lending Collection offers reproductions, original artworks, books and objects for loan and hands-on study to educators, students, and community groups. Located in the basement of the Honolulu Museum of Art School, the Lending Collection is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday or by appointment.

Honolulu Printmaking Workshop

The Honolulu Printmaking Workshop is a not-for-profit community access studio with presses and technical supplies for lithography, intaglio and relief printmaking.

Art To Go

This outreach program began in 2003 for youth at risk in Hawaiʻi. Art To Go brings art instruction and art supplies to underserved youth throughout the community in cooperation with social service agencies and public schools.

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 a pictorial record of Hawaiian history. 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.


The café was established in 1969 to raise funds to purchase art. 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 waterfall with reflection pond and a glass sculpture by Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly.


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