This Thursday, Oct. 8, museum emeritus trustee Henry B. Clark celebrates an important birthday. It’s an extraordinary milestone for an extraordinary man who has done so much for the Honolulu Museum of Art and, in turn, for all of us who live in the islands. To honor Mr. Clark, and his dedication to making art accessible to all, we offer free admission to the public on Oct. 8—Henry B. Clark Day! (Mr. Clark is pictured above, far left, with his first wife Geraldine, who was an artist, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Nancy Ellis, and then museum director George Ellis, on the occasion of the prince’s visit in April 1987.)
One of Clark’s mantras is, “Works of art should not be possessions by just one or two but shared by many”—and it is one he has lived by. It is thanks to him that we in Honolulu are able to experience Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Self-Portrait, and Henry Moore’s bronze Working Model for Stone Memorial any day we want (both are on permanent view). He has also been a strong supporter of island artists. Since 1961, he has donated 307 works of art to the museum, ranging from the Bacon self-portrait to a stoneware plate by Hawai‘i artist Kauka de Silva. His very first gift was a watercolor of irises painted by Foujita Tsouguharu.
“The European and American art collection has benefited incredibly from Mr. Clark’s generosity,” says Theresa Papanikolas, curator of European and American art. “In addition to the Francis Bacon and the Henry Moore, he has made it possible for the museum to acquire work by Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Ansel Adams, Romare Beardon, and many other major modernist artists. It is collectors like Mr. Clark—dedicated, supportive, and savvy—who help good museums become truly great ones. He’s truly exemplary. Happy Birthday, Mr. Clark!”
In addition, over the years Clark has donated generously to the museum in support of the Annual Fund, to finance important exhibitions, to pay for air conditioning for the Art School—the list is extensive. He also chaired the campaign to transform the city-owned Linekona building into the museum’s Art School.
“Henry has been indispensable to the museum, lending his business acumen and philanthropy for more than 30 years,” says museum trustee Lynne Johnson, who, like Clark, served as chair. “Henry, you’re the best!”
Clark was elected to the museum’s board of trustees in 1974, when he was an executive with Castle & Cooke, and served as chairman of the board from 1981 to 1997—a fruitful time at the museum. He retired as chairman of Castle & Cooke in 1985.
Clark struck a tall, dashing figure at the museum and brought wit and wisdom to board meetings. And the museum is just one of the organizations that Clark champions. He has served on the boards of the Mission Houses Museum, Hanahauoli School, Honolulu Symphony Society, Aloha United Way, YMCA, and the Palolo Chinese Home for the Elderly.
“Henry B. Clark not only led the museum as chair of the board but is the godfather of our Art School,” says Honolulu Museum of Art director Stephan Jost. “Today the school serves thousands of children and adults every year thanks to Henry’s passion and vision. He’s celebrating a very important birthday, and while he doesn’t want to tell us his age, we do know that 1915 was a special year.”