Founded by Anne Rice Cooke in 1927, the Honolulu Museum of Art, formerly Honolulu Academy of Arts, is Hawai‘i’s largest private presenter of visual arts programs, with an internationally recognized collection of more than 50,000 works spanning 5,000 years with significant holdings in Asian art, American and European painting and decorative arts, 19th- and 20th-century art, an extensive collection of works on paper, Asian textiles, and traditional works from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. In addition, film and concert programs, lectures, art classes and workshops make the museum the city’s cultural hub. It also has one of the largest single collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the United States.
Anne Rice Cooke was born into a
prominent missionary family on O‘ahu in 1853. Growing up in a home that
appreciated the arts, she went on to marry Charles Montague Cooke, also of a
prominent missionary family, and the two settled in Honolulu. In 1882, they
built a home on Beretania Street, on the site that would become home to the
museum. As Charles Cooke prospered, he and his wife began to assemble an art
collection, starting with “parlor pieces” from the shop of furniture maker Yeun
Kwock Fong Inn who had ceramics and textile pieces sent from his brother in
China. Fong Inn eventually became one of Honolulu’s leading art importers.
When the Cookes’ art collection
outgrew their home, Anna Rice Cooke decided to create Hawai‘i’s first visual
arts museum, which would reflect the islands’ multicultural make-up, for the
children of Hawai‘i. In 1920, she and her daughter Alice (Mrs. Phillip
Spalding), her daughter-in-law Dagmar (Mrs. Richard Cooke), and Mrs. Isaac Cox,
an art and drama teacher, began to catalogue and research the collection as a
first step. With little formal training, these women obtained a charter for the
museum from the Territory of Hawai‘i in 1922. The Cookes donated their
Beretania Street land for the museum, along with an endowment of $25,000, and
the family home was torn down to make way for the new institution. They hired
New York architect Bertram Goodhue to design the plans. Goodhue died before the
project was completed, and his colleague Hardie Phillip finished the job. Over
the years, the museum's revival mission style has been imitated in many
buildings throughout the state.
Since it opened, the museum has grown
steadily, both in acquisitions and in stature, to become one of the finest
museums in the United States. Additions to the original building include a
library (1956), an education wing (1960), a gift shop (1965), a cafe (1969), a
contemporary gallery, administrative offices and 280-seat theater (1977), and
an art center for studio classes and expanded educational programming (1989).
From Anna Rice Cooke’s vision has
grown one of the most beautiful and extraordinary museums in the world with
state-of-the-art facilities for displaying its internationally renowned art
collection. It is the state’s leading arts institution and the city’s center
for visual and performing arts. The Academy’s mission continues to reflect Mrs.
Cooke’s vision by being dedicated to the collection, preservation,
interpretation, and teaching of the visual arts, and the presentation of
exhibitions, performing arts, and public programs specifically relevant to
Hawai‘i’s ethnically diverse community.
The Honolulu Museum of Art School,
opened in 1990 in the historic Linekona building, and is the hub of the
Honolulu Museum of Art's arts education programming. Education was the driving
force behind the founding of the museum, and the museum has offered classes and
tours since it opened in 1927. Today, the Art School reaches approximately
60,000 children and adults each year through studio art classes, workshops with
visiting artists, school programs, outreach programs, and exhibitions.