Honolulu Museum of Art and Shangri La

Yesterday was a day full of art! It began with a tour of Shangri La and concluded with a visit to the Honolulu Museum of Art. There was a lot to see!

Shangri La

At 9 a.m., Ryan and I met up with a small group from the press trip to tour Shangri La, the former home of Doris Duke. The famous American heiress had a deep passion for Islamic art and her home, which she called Shangri La, is full of Islamic art and open to the public for tours.

shangri la

Though the grounds surrounding Shangri La are beautiful, the house itself was not overly impressive from the front entrance. When I asked our knowledgeable tour guide, Carol, about the lack of windows, she explained that the outside of Doris Duke’s multi-million dollar home was intentionally modest in accordance with traditional Islamic architecture.

doris duke home

Unfortunately pictures were not allowed inside of the house, but it was impressive and full of Islamic art, intricate tapestry, detailed tiles and incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. We were permitted to photograph the views from the back of the house and you could easily see Diamond Head, the crater Ryan and I hiked up a few days ago.

view from shangri la

Can you imagine eating breakfast while enjoying these views!?

shangri la view

shangri la view

The property also included a guest house and a salt water pool.

shangri la guest house

Selected scholars and artists can now stay in the guest house for two weeks or so at a time, which I thought was really neat. Can you imagine camping out in the former guest house of Doris Duke? Not too shabby.

Honolulu Museum of Art

Our second stop of the day took us to the Honolulu Museum of Art, where we were able to walk around and see two of the featured exhibitions: Tattoo Honolulu and  Boardshorts: A Perfect Fit.

tattoo exhibition honolulu museum of art

I found the tattoo exhibition particularly interesting. I liked how the museum featured beautiful photographs of tattoos done by top tattoo artists in Hawaii and included information about the artists next to their work that told us more about  their backgrounds, sources of inspiration and more. tattoo honolulu museum of art

rum fire oahu 065-001

One of the highlights of our time at the museum came at lunchtime, and it wasn’t just because we ate some fantastic food at the museum café. Stephan Jost, the director of the museum, and Lucky, one of the local tattoo artists featured in the museum’s exhibition, joined us for lunch.

honolulu art museum cafe

At Stephan’s urging, I ordered the Nicoise salad and thought it was fantastic. Four people at our table ordered the same thing and we all raved about it!

tuna salad honolulu museum cafe

During lunch, I found the conversation particularly interesting. I worked at an art museum after I graduated from college as a public relations and marketing assistant, so I found the director’s stories about the museum’s goals, struggles and vision very amusing. They brought back memories of my time at the Orlando Museum of Art! Stephan was so charismatic and forward-thinking, which was refreshing, and the museum seems to do a decent job of appealing to people of all ages.

Just look at the color of the walls in one of the exhibits:

honolulu museum of art (2)

The collection at the museum was quite impressive and I kept saying, “Oh my gosh” aloud as I discovered yet another impressive piece on the walls. I saw works by Picasso, Monet, Georgia O’Keefe, Gauguin and more and loved that the museum allows patrons to take photographs and get up close to the art.

Today’s activities are taking us to a local fish market! I’ll be back with more details in a bit… but only after I take a shower, because I’ve been told things can get a little stinky!

Questions of the Day

  • Do you enjoy visiting art museums?
  • Who is your favorite artist?


  1. says

    Stunning views from Shangri La!
    Wow- I’m usually not into museums but that tattoo one sounds fascinating! I love looking at the artist creations and really love tribal tattoos.
    My absolute FAVOURITE artist is Peter Lik. He’s an Australian photographer that has become really popular in the States. We fell in love with his work when we backpacked Australia in 2004.
    There is actually a LIK gallery in Waikiki that I highly recommend you visit. It’s on Lewers Street.


  2. says

    I worked at an art museum as a PR and marketing assistant, too! I appreciated art before the job but came away with a much deeper appreciation for museums themselves. I miss working there and bet I would have found your lunch conversation pretty interesting too 😉


  3. lindsay says

    Haha – I generally loathe art museums. I know that sounds horrible…but I really do. My husband loves them. I think it stems from hating to stand still or walk slowly. I always like to be on the move, so the slooooowwwww walk through a museum kills me! Although, I do enjoy smaller exhibits around photography, specifically.


  4. says

    I LOVE art museums 🙂 Really, I love museums of all kinds. This trip looks great! I have never been to Hawaii, but have always wanted to explore that part of the states…so much history and culture. You are really doing a great job of hitting a variety of attractions 🙂


  5. Amy H. says

    First, your skirt in the photo from the art museum is ADORABLE! Where did you get it?

    Second, I love going to art museums! It’s relaxing, interesting, and thought-provoking all at the same time. My favorite art is modern art because I enjoy figuring out what the artist’s purpose and message is…which doesn’t always work out.


  6. says

    My favorite art museum is the National Gallery in London. I like the old stuff. But I have never seen our fellow KD Georgia O’Keefe’s work. I would love to. I recently read all about her in an old copy of the Angelos. Very interesting life!


  7. Heather says

    The tattooo exhibit must have been great! It is so much more than simply body marking! I have always wondered what the tattoo-less stripe down the stomach is for. Did they talk about that? At first I thought it was for medical reasons, but honestly I have no idea.


  8. says

    The Honolulu Museum of Art is amazing!! They do Art After Dark once a month which is basically where all the whos-who in Honolulu and tourists get glammed up and look at art at night, along with tons of booze and food. Each month has a theme, the month I went was spanish, so it was all spanish food and then they had spanish musicians and salsa dancers teaching you how to salsa. It was INCREDIBLE!


  9. says

    If you have time while youre there, you should check out the Bishop museum. It was always a field trip each year in elementary school. I used to love it. I hope it’s as good as I remember!


  10. Rena says

    I’m so happy that you got to visit Oahu! I am from there and have moved since joining the Air Force. Your post are making me long for home, which is a good thing since I get to visit for Thanksgiving! I love that you got time to take in a lot of what Hawaii has to offer and yet, there probably wasn’t too much time to. Looks like you guys had a great time, and I can’t wait to home (:


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