Honolulu Academy of Arts

Near the end of our Hawaii trip, Tawn and I flew to Honolulu for two days. Our original plan was to visit Michael, a (nowadays inactive) Xangan whom we first met during our Kauai trip last year. Unfortunately, Michael had some health issues and ended up hospitalized. (He is out of the woods now, thankfully.) That meant two days in Honolulu under our own steam. For guidance, we turned to the New York Times’ travel section and their article, 36 Hours in Honolulu.


Arriving in the late morning and unable to check into our hotel until mid-afternoon, we started our visit at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. A visit to the Academy is worthwhile even if you have no interest in art, as it is located in a beautiful complex of buildings that is a pleasure to stroll around.


In front of the Academy is an engaging installation by Patrick Dougherty that evokes a wooded glen. The sculpture, composed of twisted sticks and vines, invites passersby to interact with it, coming inside and peering through the various openings.


Our first stop was the Academy’s open-air restaurant. Located in a shaded patio with beautiful sculptures and a waterfall nearby, the Pavilion Cafe offers a restful setting in which to recharge your energy. The food, mostly Mediterranean and Asian influenced, is surprisingly good for the setting.


Grilled chicken sandwich with a mango-pineapple salsa


Mixed greens with lamb


Apple-mango cobbler


Ice cream sundae


Tawn plays with his phone while waiting for our meal. Modern art?


Afterwards, we spent an hour and a half perusing the collections, which are very diverse. The emphasis is on Hawaiian and Asian art, but there is a respectable showing from other genres. There is also a partnership with the Shangri La, the Doris Duke estate’s Islamic arts museum. Located off-site, we didn’t get a chance to see that collection but watched a short video that shared some of the highlights. We will have to catch it next time we are in Honolulu.


Much of the art is incorporated into the Academy’s buildings, such as this whimsical steel screen that depicts all manner of animal life.


We worried less about trying to see all the collections and instead enjoyed the cool, serene courtyards of the Academy. Instead of rushing to see the madness of Waikiki or driving about with our suitcases in the trunk of the car, our first few hours in Honolulu were relaxing and refined.


Eventually, though, we had our fill of serenity and drove to the hotel to check in!


17 thoughts on “Honolulu Academy of Arts

  1. Tawn is so elegant in the way he sits and poses. That steel screen showing different animals, perhaps represents “the Tree of Life” shown on many rugs of Iran and India?I was able to glance through Doris Duke’s pages a little but will have to go back there to spend some time. I would like to see more of the ‘enamels’. Beautiful pictures Chris.

  2. Beautiful photos. I don’t remember even hearing of the place the last time I was there. It certainly is worth a visit. For the art for the art not the food –well maybe the food too.

  3. In Re of your comment on my site.You know what’s great? you’re motherfucking xanga Chris.I normally get home really late, and i AVOID your xanga cause of the amazingly wonderful food pics (make me so hungry…the need…to feed…late at night).not to mention your scenery pics kick ass.Just wanted to say your blogs are much appreciated, and if i’m in a blah mood, it always cheers me up to see pics of you and your partnah (i hope i’m being politically correct here 0_o).again, love reading your posts. 😀

  4. wow, i haven’t been there in ages! i should probably go back and visit, now that i will be able to appreciate some of the art a little more.sort of diagonally across the street, the art academy owns a building where it teaches classes and that sort of thing. i remember taking some summer classes as a kid (read: parents keeping me busy). i was never very good as an artist, but it was fun.

  5. @kunhuo42 – I beg to differ, Aaron. You are certainly a food artist! =D@AzrihaEatsWorld – That is really nice of you to say. Glad you enjoy the blog so much!@The Mistress of Spices – Oh, Soulfood Mahanakorn’s site? Didn’t realize my entry about the restaurant had been posted there… Anyhow, welcome.@Devilzgaysianboi – Oh, dear… maybe you should have taken your visitor up on his offer!@Fatcat723 – The art, architecture, and food are all sufficient reasons to visit.@ZSA_MD – Ah, that makes perfect sense. If I recall, the screens were just outside the Islamic art exhibit area, so that may indeed be the origin of them.@Inciteful – Glad you enjoyed.@CurryPuffy – Definitely put it on the to-do list; makes a great “first afternoon” or “last afternoon” while coming from or going to the airport.@murisopsis – I sure hope you can make it there eventualy. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend Oahu if your time is limited. Maui and Kauai are both more beautiful islands. But that’s just my opinion and I’m sure others (including those who hail from Oahu) might disagree. 

  6. I don’t think I’ll be as elegant as Tawn. When I sit, my feet usually will rest on another chair, table, someone’s shoulder… Having lunch in that courtyard looks so relaxing. I can just imagine the warm breeze gently gliding over my face…

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