I am at times asked what makes a great art museum. The answer is quite simple: Great art, strong education programs, and a commitment to make the museum accessible to all people.
Three diverse exhibitions of great art anchor our spring programming. Light From Shadow: Gold in Japanese Art, curated by Asian art curator Shawn Eichman and Japanese art research associate Stephen Salel, is an extraordinary exhibition featuring some of the very best works from the museum’s vast holdings of Japanese art. Decisive Moments: Photographs from the Collection of Cherye R. and James F. Pierce, curated by Jay Jensen showcases mostly contemporary photography drawn from the Pierce Collection, and at Spalding House, Inquiring Finds, curated by Aaron Padilla, focuses on the intersection between art and science and includes a room-size camera obscura. If you haven’t yet experienced a camera obscura, please make sure to take a trip up to Makiki Heights.
One of the issues we all care about is furthering the education of our public though strong programming. When we look at how quickly our classes fill up at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (Art Camps at the Art School sold out in 18 minutes when summer semester registration opened on April 8) we know that we are not able to meet demand.
This past fall, we started a new program with the goal of serving children from lower-income families and schools, focusing on the elementary, middle and high schools near the museum. For example, most Wednesday afternoons museum security officers go to Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary School to escort about 50 children to our Art School for free classes that are designed to improve art making as well as English proficiency.
We recently hired a full-time educator to work on doubling the number of school children from Title I schools who visit the museum. In addition, we are now hiring high school students as teaching assistants for our Saturday children art classes. And we have raised more than $200,000 to endow scholarships for lower-income students to take art classes.
Last month, we launched a free Family Day at our Spalding House location, held on the same day as our popular Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday—a free shuttle bus runs between the two events. It is just part of our larger efforts to make the museum accessible to all people. These projects make up a multi-prong strategy, supported by your membership dollars and grants from the Stupski Family Fund at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and the Atherton Family Foundation. The biggest thanks go to our team of educators and volunteers who aim to make O‘ahu an even better place to live.
I look forward to seeing you at the museum!