A small blip in the weather with Hurricane Olivia couldn’t stop the rescheduled Ho‘oulu Hawai‘i: The King Kalākaua Era opening reception on Sept. 15 from being a cultural experience as moving as the milestone exhibition itself. On view until Jan. 27, Ho‘oulu showcases the creation and dissemination of a national identity through the art, design and technology that commenced under the monarch’s leadership.
“The exhibition reception brought together several cultural organizations to share art, hula, a story exploring Hawaiʻiʻs art history with our community,” Healoha Johnston, Interim Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator, Arts of Hawai‘i, Oceania, Africa and the Americas and curator of the exhibition, said of the event. “The tenor of the day was in keeping with the spirit of the exhibition content: vibrant and inspired. Mahalo to everyone who came to celebrate Hoʻoulu Hawaiʻi: The King Kalākaua Era opening with us.”
Open to the public, the museum opened at the normal time with guests making their way to Luce Pavilion for a protocol by the hālau Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima featuring hula dancers and pahu drummers.
Then director Sean O’Harrow took the stage to welcome guests and introduce Johnston.
Afterward, it was Johnston’s turn on the mic. She shared how when she was first hired at the museum, she expressed how an exhibition like this was what she dreamed of doing. While a lover of contemporary art, that love was inspired by King Kalākaua and what occurred under his reign.
Johnston and O’Harrow then untied the maile lei looped around the door handle for the Henry R. Luce Gallery—and the exhibition was open.
Guests flooded the yellow-walled exhibition, marveling at the artwork, textiles, photographs and more—many of which haven’t been displayed since their entrance into museum archives and repositories years ago.
Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima performers took the stage at Central Courtyard for more entertainment. Musicians Ku Souza, Kings Kalohelani and Kekoa Woodward provided the music. The Café’s food stations opened with ono grub created by executive chef Robert Paik.
This exhibition is made possible by the Ohuokalani Charitable Foundation, Judy Pyle and Wayne Pitluck, Allison Holt Gendreau and Keith Gendreau, Laura and Donald Goo, Linda and Michael Horikawa, the Dolores Furtado Martin Foundation, and Jean E. Rolles.