Information About the Contemporary Museum of Honolulu

The Contemporary Museum of Honolulu was the only museum in Hawaii devoted solely to exhibiting contemporary art. The museum featured exhibits filled with dynamic and provocative forms of visual art in two locations, in Makiki Heights at the historic Spalding house and in downtown Honolulu at the First Hawaiian Center.

The Contemporary Museum of Honolulu focused on significant art since the 1940s and ensured that a large portion of the art displayed was made in Hawaii. Curators planned an exhibition schedule that balanced the types of media displayed, the origin of the art, various aesthetic points of view, established and emerging artists, and museum-organized and traveling exhibitions.

Museum Features
In addition to traditional exhibitions of contemporary art, the museum also had a number of additional features for guests to enjoy. The Museum Shop featured entertaining and one-of-a-kind gift items such as desktop dartboards, glass chicken bowls, and heart-shaped water bottles. The museum also housed a café, called the Contemporary Café, which featured an indoor gallery and outdoor garden. Additionally, the Contemporary Museum housed the J. Russell and Charlotte McLean Cades Library, which held over 800 volumes of documents related to contemporary art. Finally, the Spalding House location also served a dual purpose as a historical site for the Spalding House, and visitors could enjoy aspects of the historic building and garden.

Two Locations
The Contemporary Museum of Honolulu had two primary locations – the First Hawaiian Center and the Spalding House in Makiki Heights. The First Hawaiian Center is the tallest building in the State of Hawaii and houses the world headquarters of First Hawaiian Bank. This location was entirely underwritten by the First Hawaiian bank in order to provide residents with a convenient way to view contemporary art made by Hawaiians or in Hawaii. The gallery was located in both the main banking hall and on the second floor of the building, and it featured a dramatic art glass wall facing the streets of downtown Honolulu.

However, the Contemporary Museum of Honolulu’s main location was at The Spalding House in Makiki Heights. The Spalding House location featured art preserved from the 1940s to the present, and it maintained the historic building and garden for visitors’ enjoyment. It also contained five galleries – the William Twigg-Smith Gallery, the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation Gallery, the John Young Gallery, the Laila Twigg-Smith Gallery, and the John Hodson Connors Family Gallery. This location also housed primary features of the museum such as the café and the library.