The Honolulu Museum of Art is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. This past year, the directors of all 200 member institutions shared details about their operations. With all the information compiled in a report, the success of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s education programs really jumped out. We were surprised to learn that we serve more kids than museums many times our size. For example, the Honolulu Museum of Art served more K-12 children than the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.—combined! I should not have been surprised. Since our founding by Anna Rice Cooke, who conceived of us as an educational institution, we have always engaged our community. If I think about the hundreds of docents who give vast amounts of time or the many classes at the Art School, it makes sense that our numbers are high. It makes me proud to work at a museum that is so dedicated to the children of Hawai‘i.
On July 1, the museum became free to all people age 17 and under. Access for children, regardless of income, has been one of our top priorities. We also introduced a very affordable basic membership. It has proven to be popular—particularly with younger visitors. At the last ARTafterDARK, 216 people became members in three hours!
Recently, several important memorial gifts were made to the museum. Sadly, and much too young, Nancy Ellis, the wife of former museum director George Ellis passed away. An endowment is being established in her name to support art and culture from the Philippines. Another major gift was made by Peter Drewliner to an endowment he established last year in memory of his partner Charles Higa to provide Art School scholarships for underprivileged children. Gifts like these help ensure that the museum continues to serve the community.
I do hope you visit us often to enjoy the museums and school. The exhibitions this fall are very engaging and include Artists of Hawai‘i, which is presented by Louis Vuitton. Jay Jensen, the curator of the exhibition, has been working with 11 talented artists who have been busy the last 10 months creating a magnificent exhibition.