Surrounded by lush trees and breath-taking views, the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Spalding House in Makiki Heights has become a treasured site. However, museum officials on Tuesday said they will be selling it citing challenges to maintain both museums.
We’re told resources will be redirected toward expanding programs at the main campus, at the Honolulu Museum of Arts on South Beretania Street. It’s too early to tell what will happen to the Spalding House, but depending on the buyer it could potentially be converted back to a privately owned house.
Nestled in a quiet neighborhood, the Spalding House has been a place that provided serenity while enjoying the arts. So the decision to sell the property was difficult.
Interim Museum Director Mark Burak said:
“From a fiduciary standpoint, we’ve taken a very long and hard look at this from all angles. While the Spalding House property’s beauty and historic significance make it hard to part with, it has also been challenging splitting our attention between two large, resource-intensive art campuses, one limited by several factors that have made it difficult to deliver the kind of quality art exhibitions, programs, and services we have desired.”
Museum officials also say its conditional use permit for Spalding House restricted certain commercial activities and limited attendance there.
Patrons of the cafe say they’re disappointed.
“I would miss being able to come here. It’s such a great museum,” said Alan Rowland.
“It’s an incredibly beautiful setting up here, a wonderful place to meet with people,” said Bob Peters. “It would be a place that I would sorely miss coming to. It’s always been a pleasure to visit both the museum when I do that and to spend time at the Spalding House Cafe.”
We’re told there are about 12 employees and the intent is for them to work at the main museum and art school. The artwork will go into the rotation of displays at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Pieces on loan will be safely stored or returned to the original owners.
Officials plan to close Spalding House at the end of the year as they prepare the property for sale. There will be several farewell events in the Fall for the public.