In 1976, I was a second-grade student at Hokulani Elementary School, at the base of St. Louis Heights. As was normal in Hawai‘i public schools at the time, art, music, dance, and theater were part of the curriculum. To further my creative imagination (and keep me busy and out of trouble!), my parents also enrolled me in painting and ceramics classes at the museum. The studio program was a vibrant, integral part of the museum, and directly influenced my present career.
Fast forward more than four decades, and we find ourselves in a very different century. In April, Sen. Mazie Hirono visited Hokulani Elementary School to see how the Honolulu Museum of Art teaches art integration within school curriculum, as part of our Art Seed program. Sen. Hirono observed how students use artwork to illustrate scientific principles. She saw their plasticine models of bug anatomy and drawings of larvae. In this model outreach program, students learn art as part of other subjects that seem, on the face of it, very different.
Now why, you may ask, would an art museum spend time and resources teaching art in schools? It is an investment in the future. The dynamics of our lives today mean that sending children to learn art at museums is not necessarily a given. In three decades of working in arts education, I have seen across the country, primary and secondary schools systematically eliminating many forms of art and creativity from their curriculum. The reasons are various and, in my opinion, difficult to comprehend: from lack of time to funding issues, from lack of expertise to politics.
To create a more informed, curious and creative student population, the museum has been put in the critical position of delivering art history and art-making lessons and skills to teachers and schoolchildren. The objective is to make art a normal part of their daily lives, and make visiting an art museum a natural thing to do. It is heartening to see that HoMA is making a difference in the lives of many students, such as those at Hokulani.
The museum’s education work continues full- steam ahead. Our two grants from the State of Hawai‘i totaling $2.2 million have cleared their last bureaucratic hurdle, and we can start planning the expansion of the museum’s education facilities. A big mahalo to State Sen. Brian Taniguchi, State Rep. Della Au Belatti, their dedicated staff, and other hard-working civil servants, including those in the State of Hawai‘i departments of Labor, Finance and the Governor’s office. This has been a long road and now the project to benefit of our public education programs can begin. We are grateful and appreciative for these grants and all the effort involved.
Thank you for your support for the museum, and if you would like to contribute to such wonderful programs, I actively encourage you to do so! I look forward to seeing you at a museum event soon.
What wonderful news! Investing in the future generation especially when it comes to exposing them to art and all its benefits is truly a priceless cause!
Thank you Sean O’Harrow for supporting art education for our youth as director of our museum. I am certified K-12 NYS. HoMA is a valuable resource for educators in Hawaii. Keep up the great work. Roberta Griffith, Hawaiian artist
thank you so much for retaining the growth lessons you learned at Hokulani and the HAA Art Center, where exposing students to a wide variety of art forms is a concentrated dedication. My experience as a teacher at grade schools and Kapiolani Community College showed that there is no age limit to acquiring the enriching values of an art-related education, the wonder never ceases. Never.
Sean, it always comes down to politics. Everything is political. Like how people are always trying to close down your alma mater, the Lab School. Folks can say shutting down the arts is a budgeting issue. Come on, if they wanted to continue the arts in the schools, they’d find the money. They don’t. The arts are seen as useless. It’s horrible. Thank God for people like Mazie, Brian, and Della. If it weren’t for the support of politicians like them, the arts would be gone from public education already
What good news, and beautifully expressed as well!
I’ve seen up close how art education transforms lives.
Thank you for caring so much about this investment in the future.
Anna Rice Cooke would be proud of you!
Endorse! Thank you to everyone for understanding and acting on the importance of arts education.
Wonderful news to hear that the two grants from the State of Hawaii have been approved and will allow HoMA to begin a exciting new phase dedicated to education at the museum! Thank you State Sen. Brian Taniguchi, State Rep. Della Au Belatti and staff for the years of support.
I am so glad to hear you secured the funding from the State and it will help HMA continue to be a positive force to shape Hawaii keiki so they can contribute to the world and future. Art training, is one of the critical skills needed in the new Conceptual Age, as described by Daniel M. Pink, Ph.D. researcher and author of brain research. His book, A Whole New Brain, almost 10 years old now said that the critical skills for success will be those of an MFA not an MBA. Please continue the good fight!
It’s encouraging that the art outreach programs will continue.
“The museum’s education work continues full- steam ahead. Our two grants from the State of Hawai‘i totaling $2.2 million have cleared their last bureaucratic hurdle, and we can start planning the expansion of the museum’s education facilities.”
My question is what will these facilities and look like? A Makery on South Beretania Street? Enhanced Community outreach through the Art School at Linekona? Professional Development for Teachers? I’m interested to see what this expansion will look like, how it is rolled out and, of course, how it will benefit ALL levels of the museum’s constituencies. Very exciting.