Heiress Doris Duke's private quarters opening to tours - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Heiress Doris Duke's private quarters opening to tours

Exterior of Shangri La (Image source: Daderot via Wikimedia Commons) Exterior of Shangri La (Image source: Daderot via Wikimedia Commons)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The three rooms are rich in Indian-inspired architecture and Islamic art. The opening of Doris Duke's private space in her Shangri La Estate has been highly anticipated.

"It's something that we know that people literally have been dying to get into since we first opened in 2002," Shangri La executive director Deborah Pope said.

Duke was on her honeymoon in India in 1935. Inspired by the Taj Mahal and other marble monuments from the Mughal Dynasty, she commissioned a British architect to design the Mughal Suite for her home in Diamond Head.

"She wanted people to experience something of what she experienced when she visited Iran, Syria, Turkey, Egypt and India," Pope said.

It took years to repair the building and renovate the rooms. Old photographs served as blueprints.

"We did the research. We looked into the paint colors. And we got everything functional," art conservator Kent Severson said.

Severson's team cleaned and catalogued Duke's jewelry and other Indian objects. More than 200 of them are now on display.

"It's sensory delights, jewelry, jades, enamels," Pope said.

"The other real stunner is the bathroom, the semi-precious stone and inlaid marble panels," Severson said.

Touring the Mughal Suite is an eye-catching experience and a step back in time. The space reflects how the rooms looked in the 1930s.

"I hope that she would recognize it as it looked in the 30s and say, 'Bing!' just as she did in India in 1935," Pope said.

Duke's will specified all of Shangri La would someday be open to the public. The unveiling of her Mughal Suite makes that wish come true.

Visitors can book a guided tour online at go.honolulumuseum.org or by calling (808) 523-3853.

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