A year ago we decided to create a new museum department—Advancement. The Advancement team comprises departments that focus on fundraising, membership, visitor experience, and communications, which collectively leverage resources and advance the museum’s mission. I was pleased to welcome Hathaway Jakobsen (pictured with me above) to head the team as Chief Advancement Officer last June. With the addition of her energy, vision, and expertise we are now poised for great success and have accomplished a lot over the past 12 months.
For years, one consistent comment from visitors has been a desire to get a good cup of coffee. With the help of the Strong Foundation we have finally remedied the situation—in March we opened our new Coffee Bar. Please have a cup of java in the Palm Courtyard and tell us what you think.
Opening on July 3 is an amazing exhibition—Art Deco Hawai‘i. It promises to be bright, colorful and fun, and will definitely touch a nostalgic chord with island residents. On a more serious note, this project is the result of three years of careful research by curator of European and American Art Theresa Papanikolas to bring together the most important Hawai‘i art from the years between the First and Second World Wars. This is the first comprehensive exhibition on Art Deco in Hawai‘i to be mounted by a major museum, and clearly it is a part of our cultural heritage that should be admired.
Over the past year we have worked to ensure that the museum is accessible to everyone—since we introduced our new membership structure last July, 3,000 people have joined as new members, increasing membership by 40 percent! Of course, great exhibitions and education programs are key reasons why people are joining. We want to make sure that all visitors have a quality experience from the moment they arrive. We do this thanks to our great staff and 500 volunteers—aka the Friends of the Honolulu Museum of Art. Some people volunteer 10 hours a year while others clock 1,000 hours per year!
We have been getting the word out about our progress via traditional methods such as this weekly e-newsletter, but also through social media. The numbers are growing—hundreds of thousands of people visit our website each year and we have more than 18,000 followers on facebook alone. Why do people visit the museum’s website? Most check to find out about events, our exhibitions and collections, and our education programs, such as classes at the Art School and school tours.
Finally, I want to bring attention to the remarkable work being done by our Doris Duke Theatre team. They are busy creating programming, filling six days a week with film, performances, lectures, and education programs. We now partner with HIFF to cross-promote our film festivals, which are one of the key ways we reach out to Oahu’s diverse communities—from surfers to people of Filipino heritage. We are also proud of our successful Music of Hawai‘i series. The ability to listen to the best of local music in an intimate theater setting is a special treat that clearly many enjoy.