KALIHI (KHNL) - Bishop Museum¹s premiere collection of art about Hawaii will finally get a new home when renovations for the new, as yet unnamed, Picture Gallery are complete in January 2008. For more than 70 years, the collection has been unseen and unknown to the greater Hawaii community because the Museum lacked appropriate gallery spaces for displaying the unrivaled collection. Bishop Museum recently partnered again with Morton¹s The Steakhouse Honolulu at Ala Moana Center, to host its second annual fundraiser to support art conservation and restoration of the Museum¹s art works. The Museum raised over $36,000 to be used to prepare art works for display in the new gallery next year.
Bishop Museum¹s extraordinary collection of visual art of Hawai¹i and the Pacific focuses on art from the 18th and early 19th centuries. This collection represents a remarkable window into the past‹a visual documentation of Pacific cultures at the time of western contact and beyond.
The earliest pieces are those of artists associated with voyaging expeditions of the 18th and 19th centuries, including John Webber‹the artist for Captain Cook‹and Louis Choris, the artist for the French explorer Louis Von Kotzebue.
The Museum¹s art collection spans a broad array of cultural and natural history subjects, including significant images of early Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders and their lifestyles. Illustrations of flora and fauna of the Pacific region, incredible early views of volcanoes, and striking portraits of prominent individuals all provide us with important glimpses into the historical times this art represents.
Bishop Museum¹s art collection includes approximately 250 oil paintings and 4,000 works of art on paper. Notable artists represented in the collection include:
British painter George Carter (1737-1794); Titian Ramsay Peale (1799-1885); international portrait painter Enoch Wood Perry (1831-1915); maritime artist William A. Coulter (1849-1936), John Joseph Strong (1852-1899), and volcano artist David Howard Hitchcock (1861-1943), among many others.
Since 1889, Bishop Museum has been dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the natural and cultural history of HawaiŒi and the Pacific. Today, it serves more than 425,000 people each year through innovative exhibits and programming. Its collections contain over 24 million items, including the largest collection of HawaiŒi and Pacific area artifacts in the world. For the past century, the Museum has displayed and interpreted these artifacts in the Hawaiian Hall complex, the world¹s premier showcase of Hawaiian and Pacific culture.
The Hawaiian Hall complex is over one hundred years old and is currently closed for renovations. Bishop Museum initiated a comprehensive restoration of the building and the exhibits it houses in June 2006. An integral part of these efforts will be the restoration of the Museum¹s Picture Gallery, a magnificent space where the Museum will exhibit selections from its extraordinary collection of the art of HawaiŒi.
The complex itself will be renovated to provide museum-quality environmental conditions, and to comply with federal standards of accessibility. Improvements include an elevator, new lighting and electrical systems, facility-wide air conditioning, and the installation of new, world-class exhibits. The renovation will also allow for a greater display and rotation of delicate artifacts by controlling temperature, humidity, lighting, and security.
Bishop Museum is presently undertaking the $20 million restoration effort to restore the Hawaiian Hall complex, incorporating modern conservation and accessibility standards and installing new, world-class exhibits showcasing the living culture and history of HawaiŒi in all of its galleries. As an integral part of this project, Bishop Museum will re-establish the former Picture Gallery in its original place on the second floor. Here, Bishop Museum will display some of the most important pieces from the art collection for the visiting public. In the Picture Gallery, Bishop Museum will once again have a dedicated venue in which to share this extraordinary collection, and where visitors can experience the stories of old HawaiŒi and the Pacific through art.
Bishop Museum¹s first building, part of today¹s Hawaiian Hall complex, was constructed in 1889. It contained just three exhibit rooms, one of which was the Picture Gallery. At the public opening in 1891, the Picture Gallery presented portraits of Hawaiian monarchs, photographs documenting many Pacific cultures, and books. Later, display cases, koa furniture, and busts of Princess Pauahi and Charles Reed Bishop were added.
When the Picture Gallery was closed in 1940, the art from the gallery was either relocated within the Museum or placed in storage. Since then, the majority of this collection has not been available for public viewing.
With the re-opening of the Picture Gallery in 2008, the Museum will present the first showing of this outstanding art collection for more than seventy years.
Oil paintings from the 18th and 19th century will form the foundation of the Picture Gallery's new permanent displays. More delicate watercolors, such as the first views of the Hawaiian Islands created the artists that accompanied Captain James Cook, will be periodically rotated together with rare books and manuscripts from the Museum¹s library and archives. The renewed Picture Gallery will be a place to experience the stories of HawaiŒi and the Pacific; to appreciate fine art; and to visually experience the HawaiŒi and the Pacific of earlier times.
Bishop Museum Vice President for Institutional Advancement Amy Miller hopes the new Picture Gallery will bear the name of a prominent family or person in HawaiŒi¹s community, either as a memorial to someone in the past or in honor of a living community philanthropist.
³Naming opportunities at cultural institutions are a rare opportunity to recognize those individuals, families or companies who take their civic obligation to their community seriously and with great pride,² says Miller.