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 Museum of Art 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 museum 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 Museum of Art Bank of Hawaii Family Sunday" for lots of fun photos that will give you just a taste of the different activities provided.
The outdoor Honolulu Museum of Art 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 museum goers 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 museum 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 the museum if you're traveling with a laptop and want to check in with friends back home.
The museum is just one mile away from Iolani Palace. Together these two sites make a great day of relaxing sightseeing.
Docent lead tours are included in the price of admission
Admission to the Honolulu Museum of Art also includes admission to the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House, the museum's second location, featuring galleries of art, a permanent installation of David Hockney's L'Enfant et les sortilèges, a café, gift shop, and sculpture-filled gardens overlooking Diamond Head and Honolulu.
Spalding House was formerly The Contemporary Museum, and in July 2011, it gifted its collection and assets to the Honolulu Academy of Arts, merging the two museums. Now a single admission gets you into both remarkable places—collectively known as the Honolulu Museum of Art—where you can be transformed.