The Hawaii State Art Museum in downtown Honolulu is a celebration of Hawaii’s diverse artistic and cultural legacy. It’s also a venue to showcase the best works of Hawaii’s thriving art community.
The museum’s inaugural exhibition, “Enriched by Diversity: The Art of Hawaii,” includes 360 works by 284 artists. The exhibition features a wide variety of artistic styles, movements, and media—all illustrating the unique cultural influences that fuel the creativity of Hawaii’s artists. Here, Western art forms blend with the traditional folk art forms of Hawaii’s multi-cultural population, including Hawaiian kapa, umeke (wooden calabashes) and quilts; Japanese shizu embroidery and raku pottery; and much more.
The museum houses an extensive collection of paintings, prints, photos, sculptures, and mixed-media works, all purchased and collected by the state within the past 35 years. Until the museum opened in November 2002, the only places these works could be displayed were in various state buildings. In fact, the museum’s display of art represents only a fraction of its entire collection. Expect more works to be exhibited in the future.
The museum’s grand opening was held on November 3, 2002. Opening festivities included hands-on art activities, music, and dance performances, and food booths. Proclaimed then-Governor Benjamin Cayetano, “The people of our state will now have a unique place in the Capitol District where their own art is displayed, taught, practiced and passed on to the children of Hawaii.”
A cafe, gift shop, and information kiosk are scheduled to open at the museum in the first quarter of 2005.
The museum is located at 250 South Hotel Street at the 1 Capitol District Building. The site was the home of the original Royal Hawaiian Hotel and went on to serve as a YMCA, a business headquarters and, most recently, a state building used by government workers.
Admission to the Hawaii State Art Museum is free. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (As part of Honolulu’s First Friday art program, the museum extends its hours till 9 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.) Food, drinks, and pets are not allowed in the museum galleries. In addition, flash photography is prohibited (hand-held still photography and video photography using existing light are permitted in certain areas).