Honolulu Museum Of Art First Wednesdays Free Day

Contemporary Hawaiian Art

We have been waiting for the first Wednesday of the month to come around for the last 3 weeks. Why? – because this is the one day of the month when the Museum is free, and we are travel bloggers so we like to do things for free 🙂
The timing of our visit was serendipitous for another unexpected reason too. We were sun-burnt from swimming with turtles yesterday (another story) and so what better way of spending time when you need to keep out of the sun.

Honolulu Museum of Art

The Museum is also free every third Sunday of the month. On other days it is USD$10 for adults and $5 for children 4-17 years. We were highly entertained for 2 hours and could easily have stayed another few hours if we hadn’t faded due to needing lunch.
Speaking of food there looking to be a lovely open-air cafe in one of the museum courtyards that was really humming with clients. It looked so popular I think you may have to ring ahead and reserve seats.

We liked the architecture and layout of the museum very much. There are multiple small galleries housing different collections that surround six comtemplative courtyards.

Chines courtyard

Some of the galleries were devoted to art and antiquities from Asia and South-East Asia. The gallery of Islamic Art was interesting as it housed a sample of the wonderful art collection of the heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke. She sounds like she was an amazing character. There are tours that run from the museum to her house ( called Shangri La) where most of her collection is, and you can see what artistic dreams can be realized when one has limitless money.

The galleries on the other side of the main courtyard contain traditional European art from the 17th to 20 th centuries with a few modernists thrown in, including a Picasso. I try but I still don’t “get” Picasso! Taste in art is a very individual thing. One of my favourite pieces in the Contemporary Arts section was a photograph of divers in different poses, painted with chocolate sauce!

Chocolate sauce one

Chocolate sauce!
Chocolate sauce!

In the traditional art gallery I was most impressed by the collection of intricate etchings of Rome by Giovanni Battista Piranesi -such detail and mastery.


There was also the Arts of Hawaii Gallery where I enjoyed seeing some paintings of the Waikiki area from the 19th century. Just a little different from the high-rise jungle of today!

Hawaiian portrait

The biggest surprise was how much we loved the audio-visual displays in the Contemporary Art gallery. Moving images were projected onto sculptures and accompanying by rather random voice-overs with a very intriguing effect. We have included a sample video of one of the installations but it really doesn’t do it justice.

So I can highly recommend a visit to the Honolulu Museum of Art. I think it is well worth the entry fee (even though we got in for free :-), though do try and get there on a first Wednesday or a third Sunday so you can save up your money and perhaps go on a tour to Shangri La!


  1. // Reply

    Most museums are free or discounted on restricted days. The info is usually on their website. Thanks for the reminder. Next time we’re in Hawaii, we’ll have to check this one out.

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