The Hawai‘i State Art Museum Is Reopening Monday, July 13. Here’s What You Need to Know

A new exhibition will welcome visitors, though the museum shop remains closed for now.

Editor’s Note: Through our partnership with the Hawai‘i State Art Museum, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by Lisa Shiroma, correspondent for HiSAM.

  Hawai‘i State Art Museum

Photos: Courtesy of Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts


Update: July 14, 2020


The museum café, Artizen by MW, will reopen for takeout on Wednesday, July 15. Masks must be worn, and no cash will be accepted. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday. Find more information on its Instagram page.


Original post: July 7, 2020


Though Honolulu museums have been allowed to reopen since June 19, many of them have been moving forward slowly, taking precautions to ensure a safe return. We haven’t minded too much, as all the HiSAM From Home content on social media has kept us connected to the museum and artists through online workshops and performances. But now that HiSAM has announced it will reopen on July 13, we can’t wait.


Ice cold AC, artwork from across the Islands and free admission every day: HiSAM is the perfect escape from a hot summer day. The best part about the museum is that it continues to be somewhat of a hidden gem, with a lot of locals asking, “Where is that?” Since it’s not as well-known as some other local museums, this actually works to your advantage and makes social distancing a breeze while relaxing in the museum’s spacious galleries. 


SEE ALSO: Check Out Hawai‘i Artists in Their Home Studios in This New Quarantine-Inspired Series

hisam reopens
Herb Kawainui Kāne, Waʻa Kaulua of Hawaiʻi (from Canoes of Polynesia), 1969-1972 and Hana Yoshihata, Kawainui, 2020


Most museum visitors in pre-COVID times tended to be from out of state: retired couples from cruise ships docked nearby, families crossing the street from ‘Iolani Palace to hit another attraction, or art lovers who come across it in their guidebooks. Now without many tourists, you’ll practically have the museum to yourself. The building also has the nicest bathrooms in downtown Honolulu. 


There are a few new coronavirus protections in place: Plexiglas guard at the front information desks, masks required, mandatory check-in for contact tracing, etc. Follow all signs, be courteous of others and have a great time.


HiSAM will also be unveiling a refreshed Diamond Head gallery with a brand new exhibition titled Mai hoʻohuli i ka lima i luna, guest curated by Drew Broderick, Ka‘ili Chun and Kapulani Landgraf. The curators state: “Mai hoʻohuli i ka lima i luna brings together works of art in a variety of materials—painting, drawing and printmaking in oil, acrylic, ink, charcoal, plant dye and soil; weavings and drapings of intestines and kapa; vessels from clay, grass, gourd and plastic; carvings and sculptures in stone, wood, metal, glass and post-consumer waste. Through this gathering of artworks from the Art in Public Places Collection of the Hawaiʻi State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the exhibition highlights continuities and shared concerns across different generations of artist practitioners.” The Diamond Head gallery is on the second floor; guest curators plan to expand the exhibition to other areas of the museum over the course of a year with site-specific installations. 


Another exciting change will be the first floor’s gallery shop space. Plans are in the works for it to reopen with a new concept while continuing the museum’s mission of supporting local artists. The space will feature rotating small business pop-ups as well as art exhibitions. Stay tuned for more info.


SEE ALSO: How the Hawai‘i State Art Museum and its Partners are Navigating the New Normal

Kauʻi Chun, Ka Hiwa, 2000


The popular museum café, Artizen by MW, also has plans to reopen soon with safety measures in place. When it does, chef Brandon Lee from MW will serve up favorite lunch specials such as mochi-crusted opah, a bento box with four kinds of meat, the Artizen burger and more. Follow @artizenbymw on Instagram for its opening date. 


250 S. Hotel St., hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is available at the Ali‘i Place municipal parking lot and metered street parking on Richards Street.


Lisa Shiroma


Lisa Shiroma is a correspondent for HiSAM and is an artist and art educator. Lisa is the former owner of the HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop, which she ran with partners Aly Ishikuni-Sasaki and Travis Sasaki from Mori by Art + Flea from 2017 to June 2020.