..........................Photo: John Baer/Oahu Island News

Hawaii State Art Museum Opens Its Doors to the Public

Oahu Island News

The  new Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM), located at No. 1 Capitol District Building, opened its doors to the public on Sunday, November 3, 2002. Its 12,000 square feet gallery, is divided into six themes: Rediscovering Our Hawaiian Heritage, Discovering our Asian Roots, Artists & Social 

Consciousness, Our Traditions & Our Values, Inspired by Land & Sea, and Local Reflection, Global Expression.

The inaugural exhibit, Enriched by Diversity: The Art of Hawaii, has 360 pieces of artwork created by 284 local artists.

This exhibit is predominately comprised of works that reflect the rich culture and high aspirations of the Hawaiian people. Those familiar with Hawaii’s history and landscape will recognize many of the people and places depicted in the artwork.

 “The museum will provide opportunities for reflection, growth, and insight – unique to each person. It will be a mirror of our times and a ‘mosaic of our people’ past, present, and future, which in part defines Hawaii’s place in the world,” said Mona Abadir, chairperson of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

For the lead exhibition designer, Tom Klobe, Director of the University of Hawaii Art Gallery, this project is especially rewarding. He has dedicated many hundreds of hours of hard work and numerous weeks and months of thought and planning in preparation for opening day.

Working with six colleagues in the arts community, Klobe selected the final pieces of artwork to be displayed in the museum, “I selected works that would work well next to each other, and that would carry the idea of that particular section.”

In 1967, Hawaii became the first state in the nation with a law to set aside one percent of the construction cost of new state buildings for the acquisition and commissioning of works of art to beautify the environment. The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA) currently has a collection that comprises 5,000 pieces by 1,400 artists. These pieces of artwork are on display in over 466 state offices, schools, college campuses, libraries, airports and hospitals. With the opening of HiSAM, a large portion of the SFCA’s “Art in Public Places” collection is now housed under one roof.

The exhibition at HiSAM is expected to remain constant, although changes may be made in the future to reflect different themes and to feature other pieces of artwork from the SFCA collection.

The Hawaii State Art Museum is open from 10:00am until 4:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday; it will be closed on Sunday and Monday and on all State and Federal holidays. Admission to the museum is free.