While art museums and galleries aren’t the first thing you think of when you hear the words “Hawaii vacation“, our island does have a lot to offer for those culture seekers. Take a look at our list of things to do in Oahu for art lovers and plan out your itinerary. And who knows, on those rare days of bad weather, you might want to dip into one of these amazing museums and take in a little art, history, and culture!
The Honolulu Museum of Art
This has to be on your list if you love art since the main museum’s galleries are filled with master works ranging from Japanese woodblock prints and Andy Warhol works to Pan-Pacific artifacts and world-famous post-Impressionist oils, including Monet’s “Water Lilies.” Open Tuesday through Sunday, the museum offers a guided docent tour to learn about collection highlights or you can also take a self-guided audio tour of the top 40 artworks. If you’ve worked up an appetite browsing the museum’s expansive collection, indulge in one of the Honolulu Museum of Art Café’s locally-sourced picnic basket lunches on the estate’s lovely grounds, which feature gardens, sculptures, and a waterfall. Check the calendar before you go to take advantage of different events and exhibits, or even attend an indie film in Hawaii’s only art house cinema.
This super fun evening event that is held January through October hosts 10 art-themed after-hours parties held in the Honolulu Museum of Art gardens on the last Friday of each month. You’ll experience live music, dancing, film screenings, demos, catered food, hosted drinks at a very popular event for locals and visitors alike. But get there early because the venue limits the event to 2,000 guests.
Named to the Hawaii State and United States National Registers of Historic Places, this work of art has been featured in publications like
Western Interiors and Design, and
Metropolis. Tucked high on the bluffs of Tantalus, the historic home of Betty and Howard Liljestrand showcases one of architect Vladimir Ossipoff’s best residential works and can be viewed by making a reservation. You’ll want to move right in after seeing the mid-century masterpiece that features natural ventilation and an open floor plan with views of Diamond Head, Punchbowl and Pearl Harbor.
Get to know the Hawaii’s history though the art and culture of the native Hawaiians, which you can view at Bishop Museum. Founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family, the museum showcases an extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts and personal family heirlooms. In addition, rotating Polynesian exhibits that focus on keeping with the museum’s mission to feature art and contributions of Native Hawaiians. If you’re a sports enthusiast, they’ve also got a Hawaii sports hall of fame!
If you’re a fan of Islamic art and architecture, this gorgeous museum should be on your Hawaii vacation itinerary. In the mid 1930s, heiress Doris Duke worked with architect Marion Sims Wyeth to blend her 4.9-acre Blackpoint property to showcase her collection and the sweeping views of a tropical paradise. You can tour the museum Wednesdays through Saturdays through the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Founded by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the museum opened in 2002 and has four galleries — the Diamond Head Gallery, the Ewa Gallery, the Sculpture Lobby, and the Sculpture Garden. Also known as the “People’s Museum,” the fine art museum is free and celebrates Hawaii’s legacy through an extensive collection of paintings, prints, photos, sculptures and mixed media. Visit Tuesday through Saturday or on the First Fridays event in Honolulu.
A great chance to get outdoors and see some of the best that our main city hub has to offer, First Fridays take place on the first Friday of the month in the historic downtown district. Art galleries and boutiques stay open late, 5-9 p.m., and feature different events and exhibits every month. It’s a favorite event amongst locals, so you’ll definitely want to come out and enjoy a little culture while you’re here. Grab a gallery walking map and go on a self-guided tour and view works by local artists and listen to live music. After the event is over, stick around the neighborhood and check out the neighborhood’s mix of trendy and hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants.Enjoy your trip and we look forward to seeing you here in Oahu!