Classes Are Back at Honolulu Museum of Art School
The school welcomes students this month with a new sense of purpose, a community-forward approach—and a lot of firsts.
There aren’t many places in Honolulu where full-time art teachers not only have the opportunity to connect with the art community, but are encouraged to shape it—and then given the resources to do so. This fall, the Honolulu Museum of Art School reopens to do just that.
Part of the museum family since the late ’80s, the art school has offered classes since 1990. Now, after almost a year of renovations, members of the learning and engagement team say they’re excited to offer courses that are more purposefully focused to provide experiences that tie in with the museum’s permanent collection.
One of the most exciting changes is the transformation of a former storage room in the basement into the school’s first dedicated space for fiber arts, with 12 new Saori looms that are smaller and easier to use than the school’s former looms. Plus, they’re wheelchair accessible.
Across the courtyard, the ceramics studio has doubled in size, with an additional structure reserved for glazing and surface decoration. The former Honolulu Printmakers space on the ground floor of the main building is now a printing studio with separate rooms for a large printmaking press and a silk-screening station. At the opposite end of the hall is a new community room—a kind of teachers lounge—where the school’s first full-time instructors work, discuss how to integrate their courses and develop curricula with a more holistic approach to various disciplines. “Now there’s a unified pedagogy of teaching,” says Joseph Smeraldi, the studio programs manager for HoMA. Each of the 10 instructors teaches two courses a day, four days a week, in three-hour blocks. “They can really take ownership of the space.”
Smeraldi says that classes will have a more focused and intentional approach to connect with the collections at HoMA, including its collection of more than 5,000 items that instructors can borrow. A portion of class time will also take place at the main museum campus. Registration for the next quarter (Jan. 5 to March 12) opens in November.
This is only phase one of the school’s transformation as it strives to meet the museum’s education mission. More upgrades to the building, along with increased capacity and more teachers, will be forthcoming.