Boyz II Men said it best: “It’s so hard to say goodbye…” This is especially true when you have to say goodbye to colleagues as admired and respected as Tara Donohoe and Vicki Reisner, as the museum did last week.
Vicki Reisner—who retired on Nov. 13—joined the museum in 1987 as an assistant manager and book buyer in the Museum Shop. Since then Reisner has seen the museum undergo major changes, including the addition of the Museum Café, the construction of Luce Pavilion, the new museum shop, the establishment of the Art School, and the merger with the former Contemporary Museum (now known as Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House).
As the director of volunteer and visitor services, Reisner has worked under three directors, and has seen more than six million people come through the museum’s gates. “If it seems like Vicki knows everybody, it’s because she does,” said director Stephan Jost at Reisner’s farewell party.
Her eyes brimming and her shoulders laden with lei on Friday, Reisner told the gathered staff she is grateful to have had the opportunity to form relationships with the volunteers and constituents over the year. “It’s a big part of my job, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Over 28 years, Reisner has witnessed hundreds of exhibitions. “I’ve always been on the frontlines interacting with visitors,” she says. “I see what brings in the most people. What creates the most excitement is when we have fabulous exhibitions like Japan & Paris: Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and the Modern Era from 2004.”
Reisner says she looks forward to keeping active, and spending more time with her dog Pepper. While we’ll certainly miss her, we expect to be seeing her around—she also looks forward to volunteering with Spalding House’s new gardening program.
Also departing is Shangri La tours assistant manager Tara Donohoe—pictured in the image at the top—who after two years with the museum is moving to the mainland to spend time with her family and explore new opportunities.
Donohoe—who was hired by none other than Vicki Reisner to work at the front desk in 2013—is known around the offices for her infinite well of understanding and patience, as well as her occasional surprise offering of baked goodies for the staff.
Donohoe looks forward to carrying over lessons she learned at the museum into the next phase of her life. “I’ve learned so much about customer service,” she explains. “I’ve particularly learned a lot about what it means to service visitors to Hawai‘i— they’ve come so far, and sometimes they can be out of their comfort zone, and learning how best to take care of them has been a positive experience.”
As for what’s next? Donohoe says she’s keeping her options open, but admits, “It’s kind of a way of saying I’m indecisive. I could go to California, or even to Spain—I have family in both places. It’s a bit nerve-racking but exciting at the same time.”