The Honolulu Academy of Arts was chartered in 1922 by Anna Rice Cooke (Mrs. Charles Montague Cooke), who desired to share her love for the arts with the children of Honolulu and Hawaii. Since the doors opened April 8, 1927, the Academy has steadily grown to become Hawaii’s largest private presenter of visual arts programs, boasting a permanent collection of over 40,000 works of art from cultures around the world.
The Academy is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is also registered as a National and State Historical site. In 1990, the Academy Art Center was opened to provide a program of studio art classes and workshops. In 2001, the Academy opened the new Henry R. Luce Pavilion Complex with the new Pavilion Café, Academy Shop, and the Henry R. Luce Wing with of gallery space. In 2005, the Asian Painting Conservation Center was opened to provide ongoing conservation efforts for the Academy’s renowned Asian collection.
Perhaps most well known for its collection of Asian art, especially Japanese and Chinese works, the Honolulu Academy of Arts is internationally recognized for the excellence and diversity of its holdings. The Academy is especially known for its 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 an extensive graphics collection of over 23,000 works on paper. Other notable collections include the James A. Michener Collection of ukiyo-e prints and the Hawaiian art collection, which chronicles the history of art in Hawaii. 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, 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, 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, Alessandro Magnasco, Robert Mangold, the Master of 1518, Henri Matisse, Pierre Mignard, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Thomas Moran, Giovanni Battista Moroni, Robert Motherwell, Alice Neel, Kenneth Noland, Georgia O'Keeffe, Amédée Ozenfant, Charles Willson Peale, James Peale, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Fairfield Porter, Robert Rauschenberg, Odilon Redon, Diego Rivera, George Romney, Francesco de' Rossi (called Il Salviati), Carlo Saraceni, John Singer Sargent, 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, Leonard Baskin, Lee Bontecou, Émile Antoine Bourdelle, Alexander Calder, Dale Chihuly, John Talbott Donoghue, Jacob Epstein, Jun Kaneko, Gaston Lachaise, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Jacques Lipschitz, Claude Michel (called Clodion), Henry Moore, Elie Nadelman, George Nakashima, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Hiram Powers, Auguste Rodin, James Rosati, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Lucas Samaras, David Smith, Mark di Suvero and Jack Zajac. The permanent collection is presented in 32 galleries and six courtyards.
"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
Anna Rice Cooke (Sept. 5, 1853-Aug. 8, 1934), daughter of New England missionaries and founder of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, wrote these words in her dedication statement read at the opening of the museum on April 8, 1927. That opening was the fulfillment of a dream she had to share the world of art with the children of Hawaii. Born into a prominent missionary family on Oahu in 1853, Anna grew up on Kauai in a home that appreciated and loved 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 a lovely community park, Thomas Square. In those days, they had unobstructed views clear to Diamond Head and could see Punahou School from their second-story windows. As Cooke's career prospered, they began to gather their own private fine art collection. Anna's first additions were "parlor pieces" that graced their Beretania 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. Fong Inn eventually became one of Honolulu’s leading art importers.
The Cookes’ art collection outgrew their own 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 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 for the children of Hawaii. With little formal training, these women obtained a charter for the museum from the Territory of Hawaii in 1922, while continuing to catalogue each art treasure in the collection. From the beginning, Anna Rice Cooke wanted a museum that reflected the unique attributes of Hawaii's multi-cultural make-up. Not bound by the traditional western idea of art museums, she also wanted to create an institution that showcased the island's natural beauty and climate in an open and airy environment. Her thoughtful consideration is evidenced in the unusual and charming courtyards which interconnect the various galleries throughout the Academy.
The Cookes donated their Beretania Street land for the museum along with a generous endowment of $25,000. Their family home was torn down to make way for the new museum. New York architect Bertram Goodhue designed the plans for a classic Hawaiian-style building with the mountains as a dramatic backdrop and colorful blossoming trees, flowers, and shrubs complementing the simple off-white exteriors and tiled roofs. Goodhue died before the project was completed. Stepping in to finish the job was Hardie Phillip. Over the years, this unique style has been imitated in many buildings throughout the state.
On April 8, 1927, the Honolulu Academy of Arts opened. There was a traditional Hawaiian blessing and the Royal Hawaiian Band, under the direction of Henry Berger, played during the festivities. Since then, Anna's hopes for the museum to be an ever-changing place, an evolving entity that residents could keep coming back to for a lifetime, have been realized. With the opening of the museum came the gifts of many fine art pieces, sometimes even entire collections. The museum has grown steadily, both in acquisitions and in stature, becoming one of the finest museums in the United States. Additions to the original building have included 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 Academy created a children's interactive gallery, lecture hall, and office suite in the education wing.
The original building was named Hawaii's best building by the Hawaii Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture and is registered as a National and State Historical site. The Academy is accredited by the American Association of Museums.
In 1998, an unprecedented era of extensive renovation throughout the Academy began. The Asian wing was completely gutted and renovated. In September 1999, the Academy began construction 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 Academy Shop and a new two-story exhibition structure which houses the Academy's unrivaled collection of art documenting the history of art in Hawaii and a gallery for changing exhibitions. The Luce Complex is named for Henry R. Luce, the late co-founder and editor of Time Magazine (1923). He also founded Fortune (1930); Life (1936); House and Home (1952); and Sports Illustrated (1954). His widow, Clare Boothe Luce, had a residence in Hawaii and served on the Academy's board of trustees from 1972–1977.
New galleries exploring cross-cultural influences, East Meets West, 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 Academy Director and his wife, George and Nancy Ellis, opened in 2003. In February 2005, the Academy opened an Asian Painting Conservation Studio and in December 2005, the renovation and re-installation of the Western Art galleries was completed.
In 2001, the Academy entered into a partnership with the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art to become the orientation center for tours to Doris Duke's Honolulu estate, Shangri La, The Academy Theater was refurbished and renamed, The Doris Duke Theatre at the Academy, in July 2002. In addition to film and entertainment offerings, the theater hosts lectures and musical performances. In October 2002, the Academy opened Arts of the Islamic World, a new gallery that serves as the orientation center for all tours to Shangri La. On November 6, 2002, public tours for Shangri La began at the Academy.
The Academy's permanent collection has grown 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. As Hawaii’s only general fine arts museum, the Academy continues to fulfill the dreams of Anna Rice Cooke by providing exhibitions, education programs, collections, publications, studio art classes, and theater activities. All of these activities are designed to serve, engage, and enrich the individual and community and reflect the international and multi-cultural nature of Honolulu.
From Anna Rice Cooke’s vision has grown one of the most beautiful and extraordinary museums in the world with state-of-the-art facilities for displaying its internationally renowned art collection. It is the state's leading arts institution and the city's center for visual and performing arts. The Academy's mission will continue to reflect Mrs. Cooke's vision by being dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation, and teaching of the visual arts, and the presentation of exhibitions, performing arts, and public programs specifically relevant to Hawaii's ethnically diverse community. Her great grandson, Samuel A. Cooke, is Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Stephen Little, PhD. is the current Director. Dr. Little served as the Academy's Curator of Asian Art from 1989 to 1994, then went on to be the Pritzker Curator of Asian Art at the Chicago Art Institute.
From libraries to lending collections, the Academy's educational resources support educators, collectors, students, members, artists and art historians, and members of our community at large in their art education endeavors with a small library and a non-reservation multifaceted 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 which operates on a closed stack system and includes general reference materials, museum archives, artist files, and auction catalogues. Internet access for those wanting to learn how to surf the net and find arts information is provided free of charge. The library is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Saturday from 12:30 p.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, call (808) 532-8755.
Slide Collection: Available to all educational institutions, but closed to the public, the slide collection includes works arranged chronologically, or by artist or medium, within geographical areas. Slides relate to theater arts, photography and installations, and special theme sets are available. The Slide Collection is located at the Academy Art Center at Linekona and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 1 until 5 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
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 Academy Art Center at Linekona, the Lending Collection is available to schools, libraries, and other community organizations for educational purposes. Most materials may be borrowed free of charge for a period of two weeks. The Lending Collection is open Tuesday through Thursday from 1 until 5 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Location: Fronting Thomas Square—known for its peaceful reflection pool rimmed by towering Banyan trees, and across the street from the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Academy Art Center occupies the historic site at 1111 Victoria Street at the corner of Beretania and Victoria Streets. Parking is available in the lot behind the Art Center for $3 for 4 hours with validation, and is accessible off Young Street; metered street parking in the surrounding area is also available.
Studio Art Programs: During Spring and Fall semesters, the Academy Art Center offers a wide variety of studio art classes for adults and children. Adult classes include painting, watercolor, drawing, Chinese brush painting, printmaking, ceramics, jewelry, weaving, and basketry, among others. Children's Saturday studio art classes include Exploring Art for K–Grade 4 and Drawing and Painting for students Grades 5–12. The Center's six-week intensive summer school studio art program for students from preschool through grade 12 is one of the island's most popular art programs. The Academy Art Center also offers scholarships for young people's art classes. These are awarded based on talent and need and made available through the generosity of several community arts organizations and individual contributions.
Educational Programs: Providing art education programs for Hawaii's youth is an important function of the Academy Art Center. School programs include art classes for Special Education students and programs for fifth graders in Hawaii public schools, which combine museum tours and hands-on experience creating art in studio classes at the art center.
Exhibitions: The Academy Art Center Gallery and second floor landing feature a full range of exhibitions throughout the year providing community organizations, the children of Hawaii, and local artists a showcase for original artworks. Traveling exhibitions, and works by Hawaii's contemporary artists, folk artists, and young people are often offered along with supplementary workshops and lectures by mainland and neighbor island artists. Admission to the exhibitions is free. The exhibitions are open for public viewing Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 until 5 p.m.
Lending Collection: Designed for use by educators, students, and community groups, the Lending Collection offers reproductions, original artworks, books and objects from around the world available for loan and hands-on study. Located in the basement of the Academy Art Center, the Lending Collection is open Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. Special viewings may also be arranged by appointment. For information, call (808) 532-8736.
Meeting Spaces: Offering community art-related organizations meeting space is an important service provided by the Academy Art Center. A variety of classrooms and venues are available for meetings, classes, and receptions on a space-available basis. The Sketching Garden offers a pleasant outdoor setting for parties and receptions up to 200 guests.
Honolulu Printmaking Workshop: The Academy Art Center at Linekona is also home to the Honolulu Printmaking Workshop, a not-for-profit community access studio. The workshop is fully equipped with presses and technical supplies for lithography, intaglio and relief printmaking. For information, call (808) 536-5507.
Art To Go: This exciting outreach program began in 2003 and is designed to serve youth at risk in Hawaii. Art To Go brings art instruction and art supplies to underserved youth throughout the community in close cooperation with various social service agencies and public schools. For more information, call (808) 532-8743.
The complex adds an additional to the existing museum (118,800 sq ft) increasing the museum size to . Designed by John Hara of John Hara Associates Inc. of Honolulu, the design has won awards for architectural excellence. The General Contractor was Albert C. Kobayashi, Inc. General Contractors, with Fray Heath acting as Project Coordinator. Juli Kimura Walters of Walters, Kimura, Motoda, Inc. served as the landscape design consultant.
The complex is named in honor of the late Henry R. Luce. Luce was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Magazine. He also founded Fortune (1930), Life (1936), House and Home (1952), and Sports Illustrated (1954). Luce’s widow, Clare Boothe Luce, had a residence in Hawaii and served on the Academy’s Board of Trustees from 1972 to 1977. (She also has a gallery named for her that is located adjacent to the new Henry R. Luce Wing.) A major contributor, the Luce Foundation donated $3.5 million towards the construction of the complex.
Ground breaking ceremonies for the complex were held in September 23, 1999. The grand opening ceremonies were held May 13, 2001. Henry R. Luce Gallery: This gallery will be the major venue for the Academy’s schedule of traveling exhibitions. With state-of-the art security measures, climate control, and conservation lighting features, the new gallery is accessible by an oversized freight elevator for ease in installations.
The Academy’s historic and contemporary Hawaii-based collection of paintings, graphic arts, decorative arts, and sculpture, the source for this gallery’s installation, is unrivaled and provides a compelling reflection and documentation of the modern history of Hawai‘i through the eyes of its talented artists.
There is no gallery, in the state or elsewhere, which is devoted to Hawaii's artistic heritage from the time of western contact to today. The new John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery offers a permanent presence for Hawaii's art and artists providing local, national, and international exposure for this important body of material.
The John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery includes an introduction to indigenous Hawaiian art, early Western views of Hawaii, and the art of contemporary Hawaii-based artists. The Holt Gallery's pictorial reflections of the changing life and landscapes of post European-contact Hawaii as well as its exploration of Hawaii's changing artistic traditions as Island communities grew and became less isolated during the 19th and early 20th centuries, offers provocative glimpses of Hawaii's rich and dynamic cultural heritage.
Early views of Hawaii, 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 compelling images of the Western world’s first contact with Hawaii. Nineteenth-century images by European artists such as George Burgess, Paul Emmert, Nicholas Chevalier, and James Gay Sawkins, who passed through Hawaii during their travels, show the growth of Western-style communities and an ongoing appreciation for the beauty of the land and sea.
The Holt Gallery also features painting, watercolors, drawings, prints and photographs by well-known and less-known artists such as Enoch Wood Perry, Jules Tavernier, David Howard Hitchcock, John La Farge, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Roi Partridge, and Jean Charlot. Works by Hawaii-born artists including Isami Doi, Hon Chew Hee, Cornelia MacIntyre Foley, and Keichi Kimura reveal the development of an indigenous modernist tradition in 20th century Hawaii, and include today's contemporary artists. Other regional artists in the collection include Charles W. Bartlett, Juliette May Fraser, Shirley Russell, Madge Tennent, and John Young, among many others.
The John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery also features a temporary exhibition space for ongoing changing exhibitions which focus on the arts of Hawaii.
The Holt Gallery was named for the late John Dominis Holt and his late wife Frances "Patches" Damon Holt to honor their commitment to the preservation of the arts in Hawaii. John Dominis Holt was born to part-Hawaiian parents of alii rank. He was steeped in the knowledge of the religion, customs, mythology, and the Hawaiian language. By the time he was a teen, he was already an accomplished genealogist. Considered to be one of few modern Hawaiians with a comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of the Hawaiian culture, he was both a scholar and a distinguished member of the community.
Honorary Trustee of the Academy and wife of the late John Dominis Holt, Frances "Patches" Damon Holt was actively involved in many cultural projects in Hawaii. Descendant of a missionary family and a graduate of Punahou School, Mrs. Holt was a resident of Oahu for many years. She received a law degree from Columbia University and was also educated for many years in England. Together with her older sister, Harriet Baldwin, she helped to successfully mobilize support against the H-3 project through Moanalua Valley. They also established a foundation to help preserve cultural and environmental values.
"Working as a waitress or prep cook in the Garden Café at that time was the thing to do," says Charm Hardy who worked as a Café volunteer for over 23 years. Charm also remembers the Café had strict standards for service, combining a quality dining experience with Hawaiian-style informality and a charming open-air garden ambiance.
The first menu was simple—they served the sandwich-of-the-day with soup and passed bowls of green and fruit salads family style. The meal was finished with make-your-own ice cream sundaes accompanied by the Academy's famous dessert bars. On Fridays, they also served a main entrée salad. The sandwich-of-the-day was ham, roast beef, or turkey served with hot pepper jelly, horseradish mousse, or cranberry relish. Sundae toppings included candied ginger and chocolate and raspberry sauces which were all made from scratch. The dessert bars were made from a variety of recipes. Among the tempting treats were lemon, pecan, apricot-pineapple and the infamous Mardi Gras bars—a gooey concoction of chocolate and butterscotch morsels, coconut, nuts, and graham crackers. The recipes for the dessert bars were requested so often, the Café printed them in post-card size packets and made them available for purchase. Even with such simple fare, the Café quickly became a popular Honolulu tea and lunch spot.
"One of the all-time Café favorites that people still call me for is the Crunchy Pea Salad," says former manager Trudie Taylor who continues to volunteer as an Academy docent. "All the foods we cooked in those days were made with real butter, sour cream, nuts and other quality ingredients—even our candied ginger was purchased in Chinatown and chopped by hand."
As the popularity grew and the workload became increasingly heavy for the volunteers, a full-time manager, Malu Watumull, was hired to oversee operations. The Café also added a dishwasher-kitchen helper. The manager planned the menus and directed the purchasing. Among the other managers who served over the years were Eunice Klaus, Trudie Taylor, Diana Brommell and Kelly Malone. The Café continued to operate with volunteers for over twenty years. But as women began returning to the work force, the volunteer support dwindled and the Café eventually resorted to hiring cooks and wait help while still using volunteers as hostesses.
In 1994, professional restaurateur and chef Michael T. Nevin became manager of the Garden Café. Nevin's experience as the former owner of il Fresco at Ward Centre and manager of Angelica's Cafe at Gentry Pacific Center helped raise the standards to all new heights. Under Nevin's direction a new menu was designed using fresh and seasonal ingredients to create great food; daily specials were added, and the wine lists revamped.
In September 1999, the Garden Café was temporarily moved to a new location in the Garden Court while construction of the new Luce Pavilion Complex was completed. Despite kitchen limitations and working in make-shift conditions, Nevin and his staff continued to offer full lunch service throughout the construction phase of the new Café. On May 15, 2001, the Garden Café reopened with a new name, Pavilion Café, to reflect its new location and facilities.
The new Café structure occupies in its location in the Luce Pavilion Complex across from the Henry R. Luce wing and the new Academy Shop. Overlooking a granite waterfall with reflection pond and a spectacular glass sculpture by Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly, the Garden Café is more than twice as large as the previous facilities and offers sandwiches, salads, entrées, desserts, wine and beer, and other beverages served in an informal al fresco garden environment. Both indoor and outdoor seating under the shade of a 70-year-old towering monkeypod tree is available.
The state-of-the-art, air-conditioned cooking facilities include sanitary all-stainless work areas, tiled walls, a dishwashing bay, walk-in refrigerators, and a convenient prep center. It also has the latest in fire suppression and exhaust systems, an auxiliary storage area, and easy-to-reach receivable access. A large window lets diners view the activity in the kitchen while allowing the cooks and staff to enjoy the beautifully landscaped Pavilion complex. Consulting on the kitchen design was George Matsumoto of George Matsumoto and Associates. The new Pavilion Café seats 112.
Interiors, from the chairs and tables to the glass and silverware, have been upgraded to give the Pavilion Café a fresh new look. Assisting with the interior design was Mary Philpotts of Philpotts and Associates. Furnishings include teak tables and chairs, a sound system, and ceiling fans. Folding teak and glass doors protect patrons on wet days.
Diners in the Pavilion Café enjoy a view of landscaped container gardens and a spectacular water feature. Julie Walters of Walters, Kimura, Motoda provided the landscape design and assisted the architect, John Hara, with the development of the water feature.
The opening has given Chef Nevin an opportunity to introduce an all-new menu with both traditional café favorites and contemporary new offerings to tempt diners. He is well known for his luscious fresh fruit tarts and desserts, homemade foccacia and mango salsas, and daily specials that reflect the bounty of fresh, local ingredients offered in the islands. Just-caught fish, home-grown island greens, and oven-roasted turkey and roast beef are standard fare in addition to seasonal favorites. And diners can still get candied ginger or chocolate sauce on an ice cream sundae. Quick service is another hallmark of the Academy's popular dining establishment.
Nevin and his staff also provide catering services for Academy special events and exhibition openings.
The Pavilion Café is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling (808) 532-8734. The Café is also open for brunch on Bank of Hawaii Free Sundays (usually the third Sunday of the month) from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Most lunch entrées are priced under $10. It is closed Sunday and Monday. Guests may visit the Pavilion Café for lunch or the Academy Shop without paying the museum admission fee. Handicapped access is available. All proceeds from the Pavilion Café support Academy programs and services.