The Creation of a Public Art Museum: Transforming the Museum Without Walls as an Agent for Celebrating Diversity, Inclusivity, and Accessibility

By Lisa Yoshihara.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

For thirty-five years Hawaii maintained a legislative mandated public art collection that operated as a “museum without walls” program that loaned artwork to government buildings. This case study will examine the practices and operational plans when a 5000-object collection is formalized with the creation of the Hawaii State Art Museum in 2002. The mission was to create a museum while maintaining the accessibility and diversity of the museum without walls program. The museum challenged the perceptions and operational practices, internally of the employees and externally of the general public. Since the museum without walls program was created to make art accessible to the public by placing art in their communities, could the new museum maintain and in fact improve on the goal of accessibility of the arts? The goals of the museum’s founders were to improve physical, intellectual and emotional accessibility to works of art; expand art education programs in schools; contribute to economic development through cultural tourism; increase public awareness and connoisseurship of the arts; promote the collection as a valued community asset that must be preserved and conserved; and to garner more support of the policy makers. These goals were strategically woven through all phases of the development: site selection, architectural design, curatorial research, and interpretation planning. The planners also strove to create a marketing plan and volunteer and docent educational programs that would attract non-traditional museum visitors. The new museum celebrated the diversity of the collection, artists in the community, and the visiting public, while dispelling the perception of a formal museum.

Keywords: Museum Administration, Diversity, Accessibility, Arts Education, Cultural Tourism

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.141-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 555.033KB).

Lisa Yoshihara

Gallery Director, University of Hawaii Art Gallery, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Lisa Yoshihara is the Director of the University of Hawaii Art Gallery and Assistant Professor of Art, at the Department of Art & Art History, University of Hawaii at Manoa. She also teaches Exhibit Design and Gallery Management. Yoshihara earned her MFA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was at the State Foundation for Culture and the Arts for 20 years as curator of the Art in Public Places program and was the founding director of the Hawaii State Art Museum. Her interest are audience development and the promotion of the arts.

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