I start my first HoMA blog post with a thank you—to the board members, donors, volunteers, docents, staff, teachers, students and many other supporters and friends that help make the Honolulu Museum of Art one of the most wonderful museums in the world.
Given that I have been intimately involved with this museum since I was five, it is not an exaggeration to say that this institution has occupied my thoughts practically my entire life, and to be given the opportunity to serve HoMA and you as director is, for me, the ultimate honor and privilege. Please know that I will dedicate my career to advancing our museum to new heights.
Since 1927, this institution has affected the people in the entire state of Hawai‘i. The responsibility for the arts education of our citizens and visitors is indeed a noble mission and one that is critical to the health and future of our society. However, as government support wanes, the museum must increase its activities in an organized and systematic approach to fill this growing educational and cultural gap. Our people need us to be an efficient and effective organization, and I will do all I can to make this happen.
Even though I have been in office for only seven weeks, I see three obvious aspects of the museum that I believe need to be developed as part of the larger institutional strategy:
• We must raise the international profile of the museum, so that more people all over the world want to visit.
• We must continue to make the museum relevant to the people of Hawai‘i, so that we have a more educated and informed population.
• We must operate the museum in a sustainable way, so that it is financially healthy enough to serve the public in the most effective and appropriate manner.
These seem like big, broad goals, but they can serve as an important way to organize our approaches to many issues. I also see them as absolutely essential if we want to further our great institution and develop a great future for arts and culture in Hawai‘i.
Sean O’Harrow, Ph.D.
I am current president of the Association of Hawaii Artists, and we have started a Youth Art Scholarship fund to help grade school kids go to the Honolulu Museum of Art School summer classes. We are working with your Vince Hagen to make it happen this summer. AHA is the oldest artists group in Hawaii (90 years young) and we are proud to help you attain your goal of reaching out to the local community and making art more relevant to them.
Mahalo to you and the Association of Hawai’i Artists for this important support for arts education. The Honolulu Museum of Art is honored and grateful for the chance to partner with such a significant group in our community. Thank you so much for your generosity and support for children’s education.
As the founding director of the Contemporary Museum in Makiki Heights, (now the Spalding House off-site campus of the Honolulu Museum of Art), I want to congratulate Dr. Sean O’Harrow on his appointment to the leadership position of our beloved museum.
Although I no longer reside in Hawai’i, my heart will always be there. I receive the museum newsletter online and continue to pay attention to activities of the organization with great interest.
Best wishes for continued success of the museum and all those connected to it.
Fritz A, Frauchiger.
Palm Springs, California
Aloha Sean and welcome! I’m sure I’m able to speak for the broader community of supporters and say we are in agreement with the three aspects that have room for development. I think raising the international profile to increase visitors as well as raise the awareness of the museum’s collection is a great start. I hope to be able to support and share your ideas in the near future.
Aloha and good fortune. We welcome you “back” to the Honolulu arts’ community. HoMA is a beautiful gem and we wish you great success with your goals for the museum.
Please consider putting a greater focus on artists actually creating art in Hawaii, especially when curating the Artists of Hawaii Exhibit. There is so much talent and creativity on our islands, and few venues to display. We appreciate the opportunity to view what artists are saying and doing in greater numbers than the current exhibit on display. I think many artists miss the opportunity to “show”.
Again, good luck and aloha.
This is perhaps more appropriately addressed to the curatorial staff, but one suggestion I would make would be to include some of the Hawaiian artists in the European and American galleries. While I do appreciate the Holt Gallery, the work on display there does not seem to rotate often, and its physical location within the museum seems to reinforce the perception of Hawaiian art as divorced from the rest of the world. Many of the late-19th and early to mid-20th century artists working here were educated on the mainland and/or in Europe and kept abreast of global trends and movements. For example, wouldn’t it be neat to display a Madge Tennent near one of the masters she met during her studies in Paris (Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, Renoir, to name a few) or Gauguin’s nudes? Or a Tavernier If you want to elevate the museum’s international profile, underscoring Hawaiian artists’ connections to the global art/art historical narrative might be a worthwhile starting point. Just my two cents. Best of luck, Dr. O’Harrow!
Aloha everyone! Thank you for your kind words and useful comments. All such information and feedback is helpful and allows us to further develop and improve the museum’s ability to serve its audiences and the wider public in Hawai’i and beyond. Mahalo!