This exceptional fine-arts museum may be the biggest surprise of your trip to Oʻahu. The museum, dating to 1927, has a classical facade that’s invitingly open and airy, with galleries branching off a series of garden and water-fountain courtyards. Plan on spending a couple of hours at the museum, possibly combining a visit with lunch at the Honolulu Museum of Art Cafe. Admission tickets are also valid for same-day visits to Spalding House.
Stunningly beautiful exhibits reflect the various cultures that make up contemporary Hawaii, include one of the country’s finest Asian art collections, featuring everything from Japanese woodblock prints by Hiroshige and Ming dynasty–era Chinese calligraphy and painted scrolls to temple carvings and statues from Cambodia and India. Another highlight is the striking contemporary wing with Hawaiian works on its upper level, and modern art by such luminaries as Henri Matisse and Georgia O’Keeffe below. Or be bewitched by the Pacific and Polynesian artifacts, such as ceremonial masks, war clubs and body adornments.
Check the museum website for upcoming special events, including gallery tours and art lectures; film screenings and music concerts at the Doris Duke Theatre; ARTafterDARK parties with food, drinks and live entertainment on the last Friday of some months; and family-friendly arts and cultural programs on the third Sunday of every month.
Parking is at Linekona lot, diagonally opposite the museum at 1111 Victoria St (enter off Beretania or Young Sts), and costs $5. From Waikiki, take bus 2 or 13 or B CityExpress!.