Just over a year ago we launched our new membership program. I am happy to report that the community has embraced the new structure. Our membership is up 48 percent over last year, and many of these new members are under the age of 45. It pleases me that younger people have made the museum a part of their lives—whether they are attending ARTafterDARK, Bank of Hawai’i Family Sunday, or just stopping by for a quiet moment of reflection. Internally we are thinking deeply about how to make sure we engage this growing membership in a meaningful way while ensuring that our long-term supporters remain faithful and feel equality welcomed. If you know someone who would enjoy being a member of the museum, consider giving him or her a gift membership.
Education is another area where we are seeing significant growth. The number of students on docent-guided school tours is up 15 percent over last year, to more than 20,000 a year. Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday attendance is 22,000—an 11 percent increase from 2013, and our Art to Go outreach program has served more than 1,000 children—who each attended 12 sessions, at the museum and at their own schools, which is an increase of 20 percent. Our staff is working hard to accommodate the growing demand for these programs. I firmly believe that the quality and reach of our programs is key to having the museum thrive over the long term.
As the son of immigrants, I have found one program particularly meaningful—our summer Art Camps for English Language Learner students from Title I schools. A collaboration with the Department of Education, this program is for students from families who have recently made O‘ahu their home. They bond by working together on art projects and collectively improved their English skills. It is my hope that young people who have great experiences at the museum will grow up to be passionate, committed adults. Indeed many of our most generous supporters’ love of art and culture was sparked by time spent here at the museum when they were children.
Two exhibitions that pair well are the popular HI Society at Spalding House and Art Deco Hawai‘i here on Beretania Street. Art Deco Hawai’i explores the art made in Hawai’i between the First and Second World Wars and Hi Society explores our culture today on O‘ahu. The number of residents visiting the exhibitions after a quiet lunch is extraordinary. If you do the same, make sure you make a reservation as the cafés often book up quickly!
Pictured above: Stephan Jost is passionate about art education—here he leads a Connoisseurship Salon on prints for the Honolulu Museum of Art Collectors group on Sept. 26.