Hawaii State Art Museum

As any visitor to Hawaiian Islands can attest, a dream vacation to Hawaii is not cheap. Most travelers often believe the only free thing to do is go to the beach, yet visitors to Honolulu can visit the Hawaii State Art Museum for free. Also known as HiSAM, this newish museum first opened its doors to the public on November 3, 2002. While the museum might be new, the building it is housed in has been a member of the National Register of Historic Properties since 1978.

The highlight of the museum…

…is The Discovery of Hawaii by the legendary Hawaiian painter Herb Kawainui Kane. The painting depicts a tremendous double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe and its crew arriving in Hawaiian waters as a volcano on the Big Island is erupting. Powerful and awe-inspiring, you will be amazed at how the lava lights the ocean and the faces of the crew. Another impressive piece of art is the French painter Jean Charlot’s Ko Ke Kumulipo (The Drummer) . Located right across the street from the Hawaii State Capitol and Iolani Palace in downtown, the building was originally built as a YMCA. Designed by the prominent architecture team of Walter L. Emory and Marshall H. Webb (who had previously designed the Hawaii Theatre, completed in 1922), along with Lincoln Rogers of San Diego, the grandiose building was completed in 1928. Built in the Spanish-Mission style, the concrete and stucco structure remains an elegant reminder to that era’s timeless architectural grandeur. Purchased by the Hemmeter Investment Company in 1987, the corporation spent a reported $30 million renovating the building over a two-year period and then renamed the building No. 1 Capitol District. With three galleries totaling 12,000 square feet, the Hawaii State Art Museum is operated by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Referred to as the “People’s Museum” (in part because the taxpayers of Hawaii have purchased all of the artwork), the extensive collection prominently features the works of Hawaiian artists and artists who have resided in Hawaii. This significant collection of late 20th and early 21st century Hawaii art contains a variety of paintings, sculptures, prints, photos and mixed-media works. HiSAM has something to offer nearly every art aficionado.

First Fridays

The Hawaii State Art Museum has become immensely popular due to its First Friday concert and performances, held every First Friday of the month. Held on the museum’s gorgeous front lawn, families bring picnic blankets to enjoy the marvelous free entertainment. Featuring local food booths and affordable drinks, this event is not to be missed! Perfect for an afternoon visit; take a trip to the Hawaii State Art Museum, where the artwork shares center stage with the fantastic architecture of the building. Discover Hawaii Tours offers visitors a variety of tours that explore downtown Honolulu.

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