From 300-year-old Hawaiian artifacts to 20th-century Maui landscapes by Georgia O’Keeffe, the Honolulu Museum of Art’s collection of Hawai‘i-based painting, sculpture, and decorative arts encapsulates the history of visual arts in the islands and is probably the finest such collection anywhere. The collection includes work by island favorites Charles H. Bartlett, Jean Charlot, David Howard Hitchcock, John Kelly, Arman Manookian, Marie McDonald, Joseph Nawahï and Madge Tennant.
Central to the collection are paintings and works on paper that range in date from the period of Captain Cook’s encounter with Hawai‘i in 1778 up to the present. It includes views of Hawai‘i and portraits of its people by artists associated with late 18th- and early 19th-century European and Russian expeditions to Hawai‘i or created by 19th-century artist wanderers. Reflections of Hawaiian culture, the developing Western community, and the drama of Volcano School paintings also find expression in the work of English, French, and American artists, both professional and amateur. Landscapes, genre subjects, and portraits created by temporary and permanent new residents reflect the changing land and lifestyle of Hawai‘i. The collection continues into the 20th century, when island-born and newly arrived artists created a modernist tradition.
Hawaiian feather capes, wood heiau (temple) images and calabashes, and striking Hawaiian quilts are among the Academy’s indigenous Hawaiian art treasures. The museum’s Hawaiian collection provides a revealing continuum of the dramatic changes affecting Hawai‘i and its people.