The Honolulu Academy of Arts holds over 37,000
works of art in its permanent collection, each one reflecting
the period in which it was created. Paintings and sculptures
surround the hollowed galleries of the museum, yet visitors still
has plenty of space to absorb the pieces that they are viewing.
The museum offers many different galleries, each taking the visitor
to a different time period or a different country.
The Italian Renaissance Art Gallery walls display portraits
and paintings of religious imagery many of which depict the
and Child, a widely used image of the Renaissance. The gallery
is so well designed that nature contributes as sunlight illuminates
the exhibit, spilling through the open doors from the Mediterranean
Courtyard just outside. The trickling water fountain in the
courtyard provides a serene atmosphere as its sound echoes
softly off the
wall and fills the surrounding galleries, accompanying visitors
as they move from room to room.
The Italian Renaissance Gallery is just one of many galleries
to visit while in the Honolulu Academy of Arts, which has renovated
old wings and added new wings since 1998. The East meets West
reopened in November 1999. New galleries also opened for the
arts of Korea, India, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia soon after.
In 2003, a gallery for the art of the Philippines also opened.
Catch a guided tour throughout the collection or hop on one
of the Academy’s mini coaches and catch a tour of Shangri
La, the former estate of Doris Duke, which now houses her extensive
Islamic Art collection. Advance reservations are preferred,
but same-day reservations may be available.
The former Academy Theatre has also been renovated and reopened
in July 2002 under the new name, The Doris Duke Theatre at
the Academy. The theatre hosts movies, musical performances,
The Honolulu Academy of Arts started out as a dream of Anna
Rice Cooke, the daughter of New England missionaries, who was
on Kaua‘i. According to the Academy’s brochure, she
wanted “a museum that reflected the unique attributes of
Hawai‘i’s multicultural makeup.” She also wanted
the museum to be an open environment to reflect Hawai‘i’s
own natural beauty and climate.
After settling on O‘ahu with her husband, Charles Montague
Cook, they amassed a large art collection which they quickly
outgrew. She and her daughter Alice, her daughter-in-law Dagmar,
and Mrs. Isaac Cox, an art and drama teacher, catalogued the
collection with the intent of opening an art museum. The Cookes
donated their land on Beretania Street for the museum, which
opened on April 8, 1927.
Over the years, the Academy has become one of Hawai‘i’s
important resources of art. The art throughout the museum helps
the viewer take a small peek into a world one only reads about
in history books, and some pieces have even survived centuries.
Van Gogh may not have sold many paintings in his time, but did
he dream his paintings would be enjoyed by many art enthusiasts
centuries later? The Honolulu Academy of Arts continues Anna
Rice Cooke’s dream by preserving and improving the museum,
with temporary art exhibits and its large permanent collection,
which will be enjoyed for many generations now and in the future.
General admission to the Academy is $7, $4 for students with
ID. The first Wednesday of every month is free. For more
information on the Honolulu Academy of Arts visit
or call 532-8700.