Honolulu Museum of Art is a charismatic gem full of treasures from all around the globe. This Honolulu attraction is unique in that it features a majority of its artwork from outside Hawaii. And yet you just might find this the most fascinating museum on Oahu.
I think of it as the undiscovered Honolulu attraction that features so many beautifully displayed works of art from many different time periods and different parts of the world.
While the Iolani Palace and Bishop Museum garner much of the attention for their extensive Hawaiian and Polynesian collections, the Honolulu Museum of Art delights visitor with a plethora of art from many sections of Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Equally stunning are the surrounding landscaped grounds and the architectural design of the museum itself.
Founded in 1922 by Anna Rice Cook with a single building to start, the museum has been expanded over the years to a sprawling 87,000 square foot estate on 3.2 acres of land.
The structure and design of the Honolulu Museum of Art is stunning by itself. But even if you never step into any of the gallery rooms, you’ll find yourself quite entertained walking around the beautiful grounds.
The Spanish and Moorish architecture of the museum buildings is complemented by decorative iron gates, water gardens, garden sculptures, and a relaxing outdoor café.
The museum courtyards provide a picture perfect backdrop for photography. And while you can’t do a professional photo shoot in the museum, you can get some memorable photos at every turn.
The place is literary photogenic…it’s hard to get a bad photo here!
Feel free to sit on some of the surrounding outdoor benches, or just take a picture of them.
The Honolulu Museum of Art has an impressive 50,000-piece collection of various arts from around the world dating back as far as 5000 years.
The largest galleries include works of art from different regions of Asia, Europe and Africa. There’s an extensive collection of Japanese, Chinese, Philippine, Korean, Indian, and Indonesian art in the north side of the museum.
The European collection includes works of art from the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries, as well as from the Renaissance & Medieval periods. Highlights are works by Paul Gauguin who spent some time in Hawaii and created a collection that is well renowned today.
Make sure not to miss the Hawaii Collection, which is located upstairs next to the Temporary Exhibit and the Doris Duke Theatre (located below).
You’ll find a nice collection of ancient royal Hawaiian capes, decorative quilts, and a display of paintings depicting life in Hawaii when Captain Cook encountered the islands.
Equally impressive is the South Pacific gallery featuring a
neat collection that includes pieces from the Solomon Islands, Easter Island,
New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.
Enjoy a drink and a bite to eat under the sail shades while looking over a beautiful courtyard. They have an array of nice salads and sandwiches, and entrees that include Seared Salmon and a New York Steak.
I would personally lean towards the Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna Salad or the Kalua Pork Sandwich! Sunday Brunch is also a treat.
There are ongoing events taking place at the museum, so it’s worth checking out their calendar or calling them before your visit.
Art After Dark is their most popular event that takes place once a month. It usually involves a DJ, libations, and lots of artworks on display.
What museum doesn’t come with a gift store? But the Honolulu Museum of Art steps it up with some cool souvenirs to walk away with. You’re bound to find something good and most likely created by a local artist.
From Waikiki take Kalakaua Ave, which is a main artery road, out of Waikiki toward downtown.
Just down the block, equally as interesting, and a story with lots of history worth learning about. Make sure to visit the Iolani Palace as well and learn more about History of the Hawaiian people
This royal palace became the
stand for the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893, before the overthrow from the US government and became the end of an era. Today the palace preserves
treasures and the legacy of Hawaii's history.
Just a few blocks away is Honolulu's Downtown Chinatown. It's full of character, charm, and lot's of great finds. Grab a bite to eat, check out the shops and art galleries, and don't forget to pick up a fresh lei from one of the popular lei stands! Stick around for the evening and watch the nightlife transform the area as the clubs and bars open up!