Tuesday, December 1, 1998

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
The Royal Order of Kapiolani grand cross star, one of
the items to be displayed at the new galleries.

gives Iolani
Palace $300,000

New displays will aim to
draw more visitors

By Mary Adamski


The Friends of Iolani Palace have a plan for a livelier museum display which they hope will lure a larger share of island visitors and bring residents back for return visits.

King Kalakaua's gold cigarette case, worn leather wallet and straw boater hat and other items that give a personal glimpse of the last Hawaiian king were shown yesterday as a preview of things to come.

Many artifacts from the monarchy now stored in vaults will be displayed in the palace basement which will be refurbished into exhibition galleries, said Alice Guild, acting managing director.

Visitors will be able to take self-guided tours of the galleries, which will feature state-of-the-art exhibits and rooms that demonstrate original basement use and previously untold stories of palace life. Currently, visitors take structured, docent-guided tours of the two top floors.

Guild announced a $300,000 gift from Muriel MacFarlane Flanders yesterday at a reception for museum supporters.

The Friends of Iolani Palace will seek matching gifts to get the amount needed to plan and build the galleries that are scheduled for opening early in 2000.

"If everyone who reads or hears about this would want to send in a dollar, it would meet the goal," said Flanders. "People would feel they had a stake in the palace and it would put it on the way toward self-sustaining status."

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Philanthropist Muriel MacFarlane Flanders
donated $300,000 to Iolani Palace.

As of July, the state no longer subsidizes operation of the palace. The palace is visited by only 72,000 people a year, compared to 1.4 million visitors to the Arizona Memorial.

"When the state had to withdraw, it just seemed urgent to get it on a sound basis," said Flanders. "If we can follow through, there can be a steady revenue.

"I was thinking about how the palace was 30 years ago, when the Legislature met there and everything was falling to pieces." Flanders, 88, a granddaughter of Ewa sugar pioneer James Campbell, has been with Friends of Iolani Palace since it was formed to lead restoration and operation of the palace as a museum. She gave a $100,000 gift to the organization last year. She is Guild's mother.

Flanders was named Philanthropist of the Year last week by the Hawaii branch of the National Association of Fundraising Executives. Among other causes, she is a benefactor of the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, which presents athletic scholarships, and she is memorialized on a plaque at Diamond Head for her contribution that provided landscaping and development of a rest area for hikers and runners.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
King Kalakaua's digital pocket watch from 1887.

The accent was on the positive at the Friends of Iolani Palace's reception yesterday with no public mention made of the negative publicity of the past few months. Longtime palace curator and managing director Jim Bartels resigned in June because of differences with board leadership. Abigail Kawananakoa was removed as president in August in a turmoil that started when she sat on the palace throne for an April photography session for Life magazine. Bishop Museum conservators repaired damaged threads on the 115-year-old throne.

Guild said the first request for applicants went out yesterday from the search committee convened to seek a new managing director. The board has hired museum consultant Barnes Riznik to aid it in a process of "rethinking policies," she said. She unveiled a new mission statement which the board of directors approved last month. The exhibition galleries will showcase the crown jewels of the last Hawaiian monarchs including the crowns, scepter and sword of state now on display in the throne room. Medals presented by the monarchs and personal jewelry will be shown, as will kahili and ancient featherwork, calabashes, clothing and china, crystal and silver.

The items displayed in the museum offices yesterday included jewelry given to Queen Kapiolani by the King of Siam, and Queen Liliuokalani's lace and mother-of-pearl fan.

"There are some things in the collection that have only been seen by the royalty and their close acquaintances," said Jean Stevens, acquisition chairwoman.

A recent acquisition on display was blue-edged dinner plates from Kalakaua's era which were given by a mainland man after he saw the cable television "Treasures" series feature on Iolani Palace. Also, there were 990 pieces of stationary from the monarchy which a local resident recently gave the museum.

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