Capitol Modern - The Hawai‘i State Art Museum
Location / Contact:
250 South Hotel Street, 2nd Floor
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 586-0307
250 South Hotel Street, 2nd Floor
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 586-0307
Think of this as a reintroduction to your modern art museum. Our new name better reflects our location in Honolulu’s historic Capitol District and the vibrant modern art experience that has engaged the community for over two decades.
As we evolve into our third decade, we remain a small gallery with a big responsibility – to serve all of Hawai‘i by presenting an evolving and comprehensive portrait of our Islands.
Hawaii’s biggest little art collection awaits, so get ready to set your imagination free. Stroll and reflect, unleash your creativity, and interact with Hawaii’s beauty, diversity and complexity through contemporary art.
Welcome back to the people’s museum.
Welcome to Capitol Modern.
ABOUT CAPITOL MODERN
WHO WE ARE
Capitol Modern is a small gallery with a big responsibility. Part of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts' Art in Public Places program, we are the people’s museum and our art is your art. We serve all of Hawai‘i by presenting an evolving and comprehensive portrait of our Islands, and are dedicated to presenting the largest and finest collection of works by Hawai‘i artists. We honor and inspire artistic excellence and promote education and cultural enrichment.
CAPITOL MODERN'S HISTORY
Capitol Modern is housed in the No. 1 Capitol District Building and occupies a site in downtown Honolulu with a rich history. The Hawaiian Hotel was built on this site in 1872 during the reign of King Lot Kamehameha V. It entertained many guests until 1917 when it was relocated to Waikīkī and renamed the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. This original wooden building was then used by the Army and Navy before being demolished in 1926 and rebuilt as it stands today.
The museum’s current Spanish-Mission style concrete and stucco building opened in 1928 and was designed by local architects Walker Emory and Marshall Webb, with San Diego architect Lincoln Rogers. The structure features cast stone detailing, iron grill work and ornamental light fixtures, with Italian scrollwork and other architectural details modeled after the Davanzati Palace in Florence, Italy. Stunning original tile work can still be seen on the first and second floors.
Renamed the Armed Services YMCA after World War II began, the building housed and entertained United States military personnel throughout the war years. In 1978, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Properties, and in 1989, after extensive renovations, it was renamed No. 1 Capitol District Building. In 2000, the State of Hawai‘i purchased the building, which houses various State Departments, including the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
The Hawai‘i State Art Museum opened to the public here on November 3, 2002, and was renamed Capitol Modern in 2023.
Get a look inside our new name and branding.
1% FOR ART
In 1967, Hawai‘i became the first state in the nation to adopt a “Percent for Art Law.” This visionary legislation, called the Art in State Buildings Law, sets aside one percent of state building construction costs for the commission and acquisition of visual artwork with the goal of beautifying and humanizing the environment and increasing public access to art. In 1989, these provisions were expanded to include making works of art available to display in all state public places, and to allocate one percent of renovation costs of state capital improvement projects to fund art acquisition. These works of art enhance the physical environment of state buildings while providing educational visual arts opportunities to the public through the Art in Public Places Program.
ART IN PUBLIC PLACES
The SFCA's Art in Public Places (APP) Program acquires completed, portable works of art, and commissions artists to create art for locations statewide including schools, libraries, hospitals, airports, state office buildings, the State Capitol and Capitol Modern. The APP Program also supports arts education for students from pre-K to lifelong learning for adults.
SEE IT IN PERSON
As Hawaii’s free public art museum, our art is your art. What are you waiting for? Come visit us today.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Part of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts Art in Public Places program, Capitol Modern is dedicated to presenting the largest and finest collection of works by contemporary Hawai‘i artists, while honoring and inspiring artistic excellence and promoting education and cultural enrichment. All of our art is owned by the State of Hawai‘i, and our historic building features spaces for creatives to gather and connect, both indoors and out.
We wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the visionary legislation called the “Art in State Buildings Law,” first passed in 1967. This law sets aside one percent of State building construction and renovation costs to fund local art acquisition and calls for their display in all State public places. This vision to beautify and humanize our environment by increasing access to public art, while also providing educational visual arts opportunities to the public is brought to life at Capitol Modern.
HiSAM rebrands, launching new events and a new name - Capitol Modern
For immediate release
September 20, 2023
HONOLULU – The free, contemporary public art gallery of Hawai‘i has evolved and rebranded, debuting a new name, creative gathering spaces and calendar of events. Formerly called the Hawai‘i State Art Museum (HISAM), the name Capitol Modern is meant to better reflect its location in Honolulu’s historic Capitol District and the vibrant modern art experience people have come to love.
Capitol Modern is eager for the public to experience this next chapter in their evolution as the people’s museum, and the opportunity to reach diverse audiences in all Hawai‘i communities.
“We can’t wait to connect more residents and visitors to creative art experiences that reflect modern day,” said Karen Ewald, Interim Executive Director. “Capitol Modern is a museum for the people of Hawai‘i today, the artists of Hawai‘i tomorrow, and everyone interested in exploring diverse voices through art.”
Part of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts Art in Public Places Program, Capitol Modern features an inspiring collection of contemporary art owned by the State of Hawai‘i. This is all possible because of the 1967 visionary legislation called the “Art in State Buildings Law,” which sets aside one percent of State building construction and renovation costs to fund local art acquisition and calls for their display in all State public places. This vision to beautify and humanize our environment by increasing access to public art, while also providing educational visual arts opportunities to the public is brought to life at Capitol Modern.
Visitors to Capitol Modern will experience improved wayfinding, new hours and dynamic events designed to engage both residents and visitors throughout the year, such as their new Passion on Display program featuring a rotation of artists in residence, beginning with O‘ahu-based artist Solomon Enos. Artists also will discover spaces perfect for creatives to gather and connect, with studio and event spaces also available for use.
A robust calendar of happenings is back up and running at Capitol Modern. Look for these upcoming events and current exhibits at CapitolModern.org:
•First Friday on October 6 celebrating Honolulu Pride
•Launch Celebration - The Vibe at Capitol Modern on Friday, October 13
•Super Saturday on October 28 at 11am for hands-on art activities for the whole family
•“Fear of the Unknown” Exhibit in the ‘Ewa gallery (second floor)
•“Accession” Exhibit in the Lē‘ahi gallery (second floor)
•“Creatures & Characters” in the ‘Ewa gallery (second floor)
About Capitol Modern
Capitol Modern is Hawaii’s only free art museum featuring art from the State of Hawaii’s private collection. The museum reflects and evokes the people of Hawai‘i, explores and expresses modern-day perspectives, while continuing to build and evolve its collection through art that reflects Hawaii’s past, present, and future.
For more information, visit Capitol Modern on CapitolModern.org and on social media @CapitolModern.
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