Hawaii Mom Blog: Honolulu Museum of Art's Fall Kalakaua Exhibit

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August 17, 2018

Honolulu Museum of Art's Fall Kalakaua Exhibit

During his reign, King Kalākaua fought for the survival of his island country as a savvy early adopter of emerging technologies and design—and the strategic use of art. Honolulu Museum of Art presents Ho‘oulu Hawai‘i: The King Kalākaua Era, an exploration of how a forward-looking nation created a cosmopolitan identity that took its place on the world stage, from Sept. 13, 2018 to Jan. 27, 2019.

This is the first exhibition to describe a seminal period in Hawai‘i’s history—1874 to 1891—when Hawaiian art and culture, philosophy and practice were promoted through innovative means, ultimately to present a national identity to a global audience.

During this time, Hawaiʻi welcomed global perspectives, while confidently expressing Hawaiian philosophy; integrating the two in meaningful, creative ways. People in Hawai‘i developed a visual language that merged art and politics, and expanded an existing visual culture using a combination of indigenous and introduced materials, concepts, and techniques.

Artistic examples featured in the exhibition explore how both Hawaiian and foreign art traditions were reshaped in a local context and then deployed in the projection of a national identity. The exhibition prompts conversations about issues of adaptability, economy, ceremony, and more importantly, questions underlying perceptions about Hawaiʻi’s place in the world. Sections within the exhibition will include but are not limited to travel and technology through Kalākaua’s scrapbooks, photography, and early Kingdom telephones; hula, music, and fashion through period ʻukulele, and textiles; and international diplomacy through government-commissioned garments and paintings, royal orders, and diplomatic gifts.

A fully illustrated, scholarly catalogue authored by Ms. Healoha Johnston—the museum's first Native Hawaiian curator—and other experts in the field is in production to accompany the exhibition, along with a full slate of public and community programs.

Bishop Museum and ‘Iolani Palace are the guardians of Hawai‘i’s great collections of Hawaiian material culture. Without their collaboration, this project would not have been possible. We are deeply indebted to them for loaning essential works to the exhibition, along with two other significant stewards of Hawaiian patrimony, the Hawai‘i State Archives, and Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives. We are grateful to our community partners, ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) and cultural advisors, Vicky Holt Takamine with PAʻI Foundation, Naomi Losch, and Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, whose guidance and direction gave shape to the exhibition, catalog, and programming content.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the following individuals and foundations: Ohuokalani Foundation, an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, Judy Pyle and Wayne Pitluck, Allison Holt Gendreau and Keith Gendreau, Laura and Donald Goo, Linda and Michael Horikawa, the Dolores Furtado Martin Foundation, and Jean E. Rolles.

Special thanks to presenting corporate sponsor First Insurance Company of Hawaii, major sponsors DAWSON and JCB International Credit Card Co., Ltd. and supporting sponsors Matson and Tori Richard, Ltd.

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