New Smithsonian Exhibit Explores “Hawaii by Air”

A new Hawaii aviation exhibit opens at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in the nation’s capital.
Photo: Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

The busiest museum in the U.S. just got a little taste of aloha. Visitors to the the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. can now check out the “Hawaii By Air” exhibit, which explores the early days of air travel and tourism in Hawaii.

With an assortment of historical photos, advertisements and other early-20th century aviation imagery, the exhibit recounts “how things have changed since then. How air travel to Hawaii developed and grew. How the travel experience evolved along with the airplane. And how air travel changed Hawaii itself.”

It’ll be open for a full year, and if you’re not planning any East Coast travel in that time, you can also check out much of the exhibit’s material online here.

Here at HONOLULU, we’re particularly excited by the new exhibit, because we actually contributed to the collection. Our predecessor, Paradise of the Pacific, was one of the foremost advocates of Hawaii tourism and aviation in the early 20th Century, regularly publishing lush scenes depicting the joys of modern leisure travel. We were able to provide the Smithsonian with several classic Paradise covers.

Also, as it happens, a small group from our magazine recently visited Washington D.C. to attend a conference, and, while we were there, we leaped at the chance to visit the National Air and Space Museum for a sneak peek into the making of the exhibit.

David Romanowski, the Smithsonian writer/editor who assembled the exhibit, was kind enough to give us a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum, and show us the in-process boards and proofs.

Turns out making a museum exhibit looks a lot like making a magazine, complete with copy editing, layout changes and lots of pieces of paper pasted up on the wall. We had a great time—thanks so much to David and Co. for their hospitality!

And if the “Hawaii by Air” exhibit leaves you hungry for more early 20th Century art goodness, check out our recently published book of classic magazine covers, which includes 125 years of Hawaii history and artwork.

Photo: Michael Keany