O‘ahu Museum Ideas: Have Lunch with an Artist at Hawai‘i State Art Museum

The I Love Art Gallery
The I Love Art Gallery
PhotoS: courtesy of hawai‘i state foundation on culture and the arts


The Hawai‘i State Art Museum, or HiSAM, is the free museum operating as a venue for the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Its three galleries include a long-term showcase of Hawai‘i art and rotating contemporary exhibitions. The museum also includes work from the Art in Public Places Program, the first of its kind in the U.S. when it debuted in 1967, dedicated to acquiring, preserving and displaying works of art that relate to the Hawaiian Islands or the culture of its people.


And that collection is incredible, says Joyce Okano, president of the Friends of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum, a nonprofit created to support and promote HiSAM. Nearly 1,900 artists are represented there, including Satoru Abe, Bumpei Akaji, Edward Brownlee, Mark Chai, Sally Fletcher-Murchison, David Kuraoka and Masami Teraoka. “This is the people’s museum,” Okano says.


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Funding for the Arts in Public Places Program comes from a percent-for-art law (which Hawai‘i was the first state in the nation to establish) that reserves 1 percent of the construction cost for new state buildings to be dedicated to art. Most funds for the Friends of HiSAM are raised two ways. One is through sustaining members. In the past, benefits have included limited-edition portfolios by local artists. Another way is through rent paid by the gallery café, Artizen by MW, and the HiSAM Gallery Shop x MORI by Art + Flea to the Friends. “Our mission is to really celebrate local, so that we have a richer cultural place for the future,” Okano says.


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Last Tuesday of the month is Art Lunch, when artists share their knowledge. Pack your lunch or pick up from Artizen by MW, Michelle Karr-Ueoka’s and Wade Ueoka’s popular downtown lunch spot. You can also grab breakfast there before the museum opens.

First Friday of every month, the museum stays open late and offers live music. The sculpture garden, a favorite place for us to wander after sunset, is slated to reopen in 2019.

Second Saturday of every month is great for kids. Do the free arts and crafts activity, then head to the I Love Art Gallery for hands-on play.



Opened In 2002

Info Second floor of the No. 1 Capitol Building, 250 S. Hotel St., (808) 586-0900, sfca.hawaii.gov

Hours Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., closed Sundays and major holidays

Admission Free, including all activities

Size 12,000 square feet

Annual visitors 68,759 in 2017

Run by The Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, supported by the 501(c)(3) Friends of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum