Island Masterpiece

Posted in: The Arts, Things to Do

When one thinks of Paris, the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay comes to mind. In New York City, the Museum of Modern Art. In Honolulu, one thinks of…beaches?

Hawaii may be an unexpected locale for a world-class art museum, but here’s where “the best small museum in the country” is located, according to former Director of the National Gallery J. Carter Brown.

“The Honolulu Museum of Art’spermanent collection of artworks is truly a gem, on par with some of the most prestigious museums in the world,” says Museum Director Halona Norton-Westbrook. “That’s why drawing attention to these works is such a major focus of our programming, because there are so many incredible artworks in our collection that deserve exploration and celebration.” 

Built in 1926, the Honolulu Museum of Art, or HoMA, was among the first structures in Hawai‘i—and art museums in the US—to blend its indoor and outdoor spaces into a seamless architectural layout, creating a harmonious relationship between the art, galleries, and museum courtyards, and reflecting its multicultural mid-Pacific location. And the ambiance can even be enjoyed at night, with extended evening hours on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Looking west, guests will find European and American works among galleries devoted to ancient art, Renaissance works, Impressionism, Modernism, featuring the works of artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Amedeo Modigliani, Diego Rivera, Alexander Calder, and John Singer Sargent.

At the core of HoMA’s collection are the Hawaiian and Hawai‘i-based sculpture, kapa cloth, quilts, decorative arts, paintings, and drawings that narrate the history of visual arts in the islands.

Adding to the museum experience is the sumptuous menu at the open-air café. “It’s beloved for its casual, contemporary dishes and al fresco ambiance,” says Norton-Westbrook. “Chef Ben Abes uses fresh local ingredients, with an emphasis on operating as sustainably as possible. The HoMA Café is open Thursday through Sunday for lunch. And don’t miss our open-air coffee bar, which serves bites and beverages all day and into the evening.”

Spending part of a day at the Honolulu Museum of Art is as memorable as any museum experience one can have on their vacation. Norton-Westbrook concludes, “This museum, with its storied history and incredible collection, is a delight that you won’t want to miss when visiting O‘ahu.”

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