Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

The Honolulu Academy of Arts in Honolulu is a cultural smorgasbord. The museum is home to a permanent collection of art from around the world and much more. The Doris Duke Theater screens independent and international films. The open air Pavilion Cafe serves a fusion lunch menu featuring local ingredients amid a tranquil garden. Your tour of Shangra La, Doris Duke’s home with a collection of Islamic art, begins and ends at the museum.

One of my favorite areas is the peaceful Chinese Courtyard with the brilliant lotus blossoms poking out from the azure pond, guarded by stone dragons.

Lotus blossom in the Chinese Courtyard Honolulu Academy of Arts

Lotus blossom in the Chinese Courtyard Honolulu Academy of Arts

Ji Sun Chang suggested we visit the museum for a special exhibit. On display November 03, 2011 – January 08, 2012 are 56 paintings from the Palace Museum also known as the Forbidden City along with items from the Honolulu Academy of Arts collection. This is the first time these 13-14 century works of art have traveled outside China. Collections Registrar Pauline Sugino traveled to Beijing to bring this collection to Hawaii.

The exhibit titled “Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City” features works by influential artists of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, and Wang Meng.

These pieces feature several distinct styles of brush strokes and use of color. The works of these four masters influenced artists of the Yuan dynasty. I was amazed at how well these paintings have been maintained. Despite their age, they are in excellent condition.

April M. Williams and Ji Sun Chang entering Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

April M. Williams and Ji Sun Chang entering Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

Entrances to the exhibit and round doorways between rooms are designed to transform visitors to ancient China. Note the garden scene above as we enter and round doorways inside.

QR codes posted next to the landscapes link to podcasts with more information about specific works and artists. Click on the image below to see the introductory episode.

Doris Dukes Shangri La on the Pacific Ocean Honolulu Hawaii

Shangri La, the Pacific oceanfront private home once owned by socialite Doris Duke is now open for tours through the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Built in 1937, the custom design sits on a large estate overlooking a rocky beach near Diamond Head crater.

Tours begin and end at the Honolulu Academy of Arts and guests are transported to Black Point beach on a motor coach bus.

A guide meets you at the gate with an introduction about the property and overview of the rules for your visit. The first rule is not photography is allowed within the walls of the complex. Photographs are available for purchase at the  museum gift shop. No photos are included with the $26 per person entrance fee.

Visitors snap photos before entering Doris Duke's Shangri La in Honolulu Hawaii

Visitors snap photos before entering Doris Duke's Shangri La in Honolulu Hawaii

Doris Duke came into money as a young girl. She married and after traveling around the world, purchased 5 acres just outside Waikiki for a part time residence. Duke was involved in the intimate details of building the home creating a showplace for her growing collection of Islamic art from places she had visited. Persian carpets, mosaic fountains and ancient pottery quickly filled the large rooms.

The cavernous living room is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows with a spectacular view of the garden, pool and Pacific Ocean. The windows can be lowered into the floor with a flip of a switch allowing walkout access and trade winds to blow throughout the home.

Our guide said, “Miss Duke would only lower the windows halfway to keep her menagerie of dogs inside the house.

The center courtyard is lined with plants and century old Asian vases with a center  skylight.

@biznaz and @noelfwilliams at the entrance to Shangri La

@biznaz and @noelfwilliams at the entrance to Shangri La

Tickets to Shangri La can be purchased throughout the Honolulu Academy of Arts and include admission to the museum. Learn more about Doris Duke’s art collection in this book.

Another Perspective of Diamond Head Honolulu Hawaii

For a real adventure talk a walk around Diamond Head. Really! Around Diamond Head! Put on your comfortable shoes because we have a long hike ahead of us. Plan on four to five miles depending on your starting location.

The best time to take this walk is just before sunrise, before the day heats up. If you are starting from Waikiki, walk along Kalakaua Avenue and listen to the quiet of the morning. Traffic is light, mostly trucks delivering food and supplies to businesses. Say “hello” to your fellow early morning walkers and those visitors too jet lagged to sleep in. As you pass the Police Station near the Duke Kahanamoku statue, watch the surfers out catching the best waves of the day. Just outside the station, inside a fenced area are the four ancient Pohaku Stones, a gift from Tahitian healers to Hawaiian residents. Watch out for maintenance workers clearing trash or sweeping sand from the sidewalks to prepare the beach for the onslaught of sun bathers.

Continue walking past Kapiolani Park but don’t stop here before dawn. On your right, you’ll pass the huge banyan trees in front of the Waikiki Aquarium and Natatorium. Continuing along Kalakaua you will see sleepy tourists outside drinking their coffee and hotel workers clearing garden debris from the sidewalk. At the end of the park, take a right onto Diamond Head Road and begin your ascent.

This stretch can get crowded with walkers, runners, bikers and surfers early in the morning. Stay to the right and out of the traffic flow. Beautiful homes are nestled into the side of the volcano. As you pass Kaluahole, Makalei and Le’Ahi Beaches, the number of cars parked on the side of the road increase. Surfers know where the best waves are. If you want to try your luck here, be aware of a long, steep decline to get to the water on sometimes unstable slopes.

Listen to the new sounds along this stretch. Roosters crowing greetings to the new day. Other colorful birds like the Red-Crested Cardinal rustle in the branches. Keep your eyes open for mongoose darting through the rocks. A few stray cats cruise by checking out the scene. Check out the view over the Pacific as the sky begins to brighten.

Soon you will pass Diamond Head Lighthouse. The original was built in 1899 and replaced in 1917. The Fresnel lens shines brightly warning ships away from the jagged shoreline. Take in the view from the street as this lighthouse stands on the current residence of the 14th Coast Guard District Commander and is not open to the public.

Continue along past Kuilei Cliffs beach where you can rest your weary feet for a moment on the lava rock wall. Say hello to the master gardeners who keep this tropical garden trim and neat. This is a prime spot to wait for the sun to crest the ocean as the day officially begins.

Next up is the Amelia Earhart Monument and parking area. Watch out for buses as this is a favorite spot for tour guides to stop for photos. The Pacific views and beaches below are breathtaking. Look along the coast to the left and see Black Point and Doris Duke’s Shangri La. Built in the 1930′s, you can now tour the home and Islamic treasures Duke collected.

Across the street is Diamond Head Park, endowed by Muriel Flanders, and can be identified by the plaque on a large stone. She led the effort to replace the weeds and garbage with native plants. We are not quite at the half way point. Let’s continue on our walk.

As we reach the top of the rise, we will take a left as Diamond Head Road turns and Kahala Road goes straight along the coast. The large park at the intersection is a common gathering spot for charity walks and other events. Now we begin our long descent on the inland side of Diamond Head.

On the right, we pass Fort Rutger Military Reservation. Several buildings out in front and gates on the side of the road further along are made from lava rocks. Few remnants remain of the former Officers Club on the left side of the street. Also on the left is the driveway into Diamond Head State Park. If you still have energy, walk into the park then hike to the top of Diamond Head for spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, Waikiki, and Honolulu. On your .8 mile hike you will climb 560 feet above the crater floor.

If you are not up for that hike, check out the outdoor workout area in the park on the right in front of Kapiolani Community College. Then walk to the front of the college for a tour of their cactus garden and views of Kahala and Koko Head Crater. If this is Saturday morning, check out the farmers market in the college parking lot. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and delectable treats await you. Pick up a cup of Kona coffee to sip while you shop. Taste island and other exotic dishes, even bakery items. As you get back to your walk, check out the Peace Garden nestled in the hillside across from the college entrance.

Now we are on the home stretch. Honolulu and Waikiki stand before you. Diamond Head Road becomes Monsarrat Avenue as we return to the Diamond Head neighborhood. Check out the stores and restaurants like the Diamond Head Market and Grill.

Continue under the tree canopy as you walk along the fence outside the Honolulu Zoo. On the weekends, local artists display their art on the fence and chat with each other or work on new art pieces. On your right is the Waikiki Shell where you can enjoy the outdoors and listen to music. We are back at Kapiolani Park. Check out the gazebo and statues or sit on a park bench and take in the sights.

What a great way to start the day. Now you won’t feel guilty about lounging on Waikiki Beach during the afternoon.

Learn more about off the beaten path site in Honolulu with Oahu Revealed.

Doris Dukes Shangra La Honolulu Hawaii

Doris Duke created Shangra La, a home on a five acre patch of ocean front property over looking Diamond Head. The home is decorated with Duke’s passion, Islamic treasures collected from around the world.

Doris Dukes Shangra La Honolulu Hawaii

Doris Dukes Shangra La Honolulu Hawaii

This is the first view we had when the front door opened.

Oh, to live in Shangra La!

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