Honolulu Museum of Art: Honolulu's Surprising Not-So-Secret Hideaway

Posted in: Editor's Blog, The Arts, Things to Do

By Richard Melendez, Digital Editor

Chinese Courtyard at HoMA
The Chinese Courtyard, one of the beautiful open-air spaces at HoMA

We’ve all got that super secret place that we like to think no one knows about except you—it could be that hole in the wall with super-cheap drinks, a municipal lot with tons of parking, or that plate lunch place with free, unlimited wi-fi. The people who do know understand the power of the knowledge they hold and will guard their secret closely. Put another way, if you know, you know, and if you don’t know, I’m not gonna be the one who tells you about it. Well, not usually.

One of my super secret places to hang out isn’t all that much of a secret, actually. The Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) is conveniently located on a major thoroughfare in Honolulu’s urban core. It’s in all the tourist guidebooks and locals are open about their love for it, too. I’ve been there a million times but it was only in the last couple of years did I start to appreciate its value as a place to just hang out.

First of all, the museum has a spectacular collection of art, its collection of Asian works, in particular, having special importance. Overall, the museum allows you to enjoy works from European masters to contemporary local artists with a number of eye-opening detours along the way. They have monthly Family Sundays for the kids to play, explore and learn as well as their ARTafterDARK series for adults to, well, play, explore and learn.

But putting aside art appreciation and engaging events, the museum itself is just a nice place to be. Many of the indoor galleries contain seating so you can pause and admire the works before you, or just rest your feet for a bit. While the cool air conditioning is always pleasant, the layout of the museum is such that each gallery opens up to one of several courtyards, punctuating each exhibit with a literal breath of fresh air. Think of it as a palette cleanser between exhibits, allowing you to contemplate what you've just seen before moving on to the next gallery. These courtyards are serene and beautiful works in themselves, with the Mediterranean influence throughout the surrounding architecture having you feel like you’re elsewhere other than the heart of a city.

I’ve spent many Saturdays at the museum seated outdoors, enjoying a cup of coffee and writing to my heart’s content. I know of a number of other people who have stumbled upon this “secret” and rely on HoMA as one of their go-to places to unwind from a rough week or even get work done. All in all, the museum really is a great place to just sit and be.

And if you need any further convincing, an individual museum membership pays for itself after a few visits, making regular stops not only justifiable but cost-effective, too.

But let's just keep all this between you and me, 'kay?


The Chinese Courtyard, one of the beautiful open-air spaces at HoMA


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