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Amateurs start Hawaii's Honolulu Museum of Art

In 1927 Anna Rice Cooke opened the Honolulu Academy of Arts to give Hawaii’s ethnically diverse keiki (children) a place to see their various cultures visually represented. An extremely generous woman, Anna used her personal art collection, family land (tearing down her house in the process), and $25,000 to start the project. Without any formal training or education she and some female family members meticulously catalogued the family art to start the original 500 piece collection which has since grown to over 50,000 pieces. In short, she was awesome.

Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue died of a nerve condition nicknamed 'Americanitis' (nothing to do with an excess of freedom or guns) three years before the museum’s completion. The design combines his signature Spanish style and Hawaiian architecture with a series of simple and elegant open-aired courtyards, white walls, and a tiled roof. He also designed El Fureidis which was used for the outside shots of Tony Montana’s house in 1983s Scarface.

The word 'academy' was dropped and the name was changed to the Honolulu Museum of Art in 2012 after it was discovered that only 13% of tourists recognized the building as a museum and not a school. A recent merger with the Contemporary Museum (known as The Spalding House) also may have impacted the decision.

Located across a park from the Honolulu Museum of Art School and the Blaisdell Concert Hall (home of the Honolulu Opera and my favorite farmer’s market) the museum is an architectural and cultural oasis in a city where rapid growth has led to a lot of ugly buildings. It boasts a theatre, huge collection of Asian art, and the orientation center for Doris Duke’s estate Shangri La (tobacco heiress with a penchant for Islamic art). Access to the museum library, café, gift shop, and gardens are on the house. A purchased ticket will gain you same day admission to the Contemporary Museum or you can get into both for free on the 3rd Sunday and first Wednesday of every month.

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HoMA's Impressionism gallery

The Honolulu Museum of Art (formerly the Honolulu Academy of Arts) is an art museum in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The museum is the largest of its kind in the state, and was founded in 1922 by Anna Rice Cooke. The museum has one of the largest single collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the United States, and since its official opening on April 8, 1927, its collections have grown to more than 55,000 works of art.

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