Saturday, July 24, 1999

Academy to
build new wing for
depictions of isles

$3 million from the Henry Luce
Foundation will go toward
the project's cost

By Dawn D. Sagario


Imagine one place to see the evolution of Hawaii through art.

There is no such place here, but Honolulu Academy of Arts Director George Ellis says there soon will be.

"It's a quantum leap forward in the ability for us to serve this community well," he said.

A grant of $3 million was awarded last week to the academy by the Henry Luce Foundation for construction of a new, two-story wing that includes a display on Western renditions of Hawaii and its people.

"It will be a tremendous opportunity to see how eyes have looked upon Hawaii," said local artist Laura Ruby, also an art instructor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

"It's a very valuable collection to be shown to the public. It's very unique because if you think about about it, what other museum would have a Hawaii-specific collection?"

The building will be named after the late Henry R. Luce, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., who established the foundation in 1936.

'It will be a tremendous
opportunity to see how eyes have
looked upon Hawaii.

Laura Ruby


The wing is part of a larger venture, to be called the Luce Pavilion, which will include construction of a new bookstore and cafe and the present Clare Boothe Luce wing, which houses the contemporary gallery and theater.

The Luce grant will go toward the total cost of the project, estimated at $6 million to $8 million.

Ellen Holtzman, program director for the arts at the foundation, said the new wing is a kind of complement to the Clare Boothe Luce wing, which was opened in 1976. Clare Boothe Luce was Henry Luce's second wife and a former resident of Hawaii.

"Helping make the mate wing would be a nice synergy for the Luce family and the Luce Foundation," she said.

Groundbreaking for the new wing, which has been two years in the making, is set for late September, with its opening in January 2001. It will be built on the academy's current staff parking lot.

The Hawaii collection, which will be located on the second floor of the wing, contains art from the late 18th century through contemporary times.

One of the works displayed is by John Webber, who was on board Captain Cook's ship as the official artist.

Indigenous Hawaiian art also will be on display, Ellis added, to show that "there was a wonderful and vibrant artistic tradition when the Westerners arrived."

The first floor will be used to house traveling exhibitions. In the past, the academy has had to dismantle existing galleries to display works from different parts of the world. The added space will allow it to present more special exhibitions and showings.

The addition of this wing, Ellis says, also will be important for cultural tourism as an additional incentive for international visitors.

"What Hawaii has to offer that no other destination does is its cultural diversity," he said. "What we're doing is creating a great resource, foremost, for the people of Hawaii."

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