Beat the heat and get away from the more crowded sites at the Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii's premiere fine arts museum. TripAdvisor user Birdwalk calls it "a much needed change from the frenetic pace of Waikiki."
The Museum's architecture is just as big of a draw as its collections. Within the museum, visitors can feel transported to other cultures and other times as they pass through beautiful outdoor pavilions and more than 30 galleries. From the lilypad pond in the Japanese garden to the sculpture-filled central courtyard, the Honolulu Academy of Arts combines acclaimed exhibitions with beautiful settings
Their Asian art collection is one of the top ten in America, and includes 16,000 objects by artists and craftspeople from China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and India. You'll also find an encyclopedic collection of Western art, from 5,000-year-old ancient Egyptian works to American and European art through the present day, as well as the best collection of Hawaiian regional and decorative arts anywhere. Special exhibitions have ranged from contemporary Iranian photography, to Japanese hina dolls, to Cambodian textiles, to Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings.
On the third Sunday of every month, the Academy hosts Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday. This free day includes scavenger hunts, art activities, demonstrations, film screenings, and entertainment for families and kids of all ages—all following a different theme each month. Search Flickr.com for "Honolulu Academy of Arts Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday" for lots of fun photos that will give you just a taste of the different activities provided.
The outdoor Pavilion Café comes highly recommended, and is part of the Luce Pavilion Complex surrounded by gardens with a waterfall, spectacular sculptures by Jun Kaneko, and a 70-year-old monkeypod tree. It's a very popular spot with museumgoers and downtown businesspeople alike, and reservations are recommended at all times. But if you can't get a table, you can order anything off the menu for takeout and eat in one of the beautiful outdoor courtyards.
For special souvenirs, visit the Academy shop to browse publications, stationery, prints, and posters, as well as works by Hawaii artisans and designers that you won't find outside of the islands. There's also free WiFi in some parts of the museum if you're traveling with a laptop and want to check in with friends back home.
The Academy is just one mile away from Iolani Palace. Together these two sites make a great day of relaxing sightseeing.
Please note that additional tours are not included.
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Comments about Smart Destinations Honolulu Academy of Arts:
A wonderful museum in downtown Honolulu. There's always a lot to learn at museums and this one is no exception, so it is good to budget several hours to see all kinds of art in all mediums. They have special exhibits, too, and a cafe on site. There are two locations (we went to the downtown one), so be sure you have the right one in mind when you call about hours and exhibits. Or, just go online and take a look at their website. Our only regret is the amount of time we had (an hour). We would have enjoyed it much more if we'd spent at least 3 hours there.