Museum Merger FAQs

On May 2, 2011, the Honolulu Academy of Arts and The Contemporary Museum signed a gift agreement that integrated the two institutions. On July 1, 2011, that agreement became legally binding, and in 2012 the combined institutions changed its public name to the Honolulu Museum of Art. Here are answers to questions you may have about this milestone event.

Why did the two museums merge?

The Honolulu Academy of Arts and The Contemporary Museum united as a new, world-class art museum to better serve its diverse community, ensure financial stability for future generations, and increase capacity to present innovative and engaging programs and exhibitions.

Just as corporations have been merging to form a single stronger entity, in these challenging financial times, nonprofit organizations will increasingly join forces. The boards of both museums showed foresight in orchestrating the integration of the Honolulu Academy of Arts and The Contemporary Museum.

The integrated museum—with fresh energy and a new story to tell—can engage brand new segments of the community in Hawai‘i and beyond.

How is a single museum better able to serve the community?

The Academy and TCM had different communities of art lovers. Obviously some overlap in audience existed, but for the most part, the museums have served separate audiences.

With one museum, the combined audiences are exposed to both art worlds.

Both museums’ missions are based on education. With a stronger endowment and an expanded collection of more than 53,500 works, the combined museum is even better able to share the story of art with Hawai‘i residents and visitors through expanded programs in two singular, historic locations.

How does the merger ensure financial stability for the museum?

The combining of departments such as accounting and member services should result in operational and financial savings.

Also, drawing from an often overlapping donor base in the past had placed limitations in fundraising activities for both institutions. This is no longer the case.

The combined assets of both institutions puts the new, single museum on solid financial footing, making it easier to negotiate the fluctuations of the economy and the donor community in particular.

How does the merger increase capacity to present innovative and engaging programs and exhibitions?

The combined collections of the Honolulu Academy of Arts and The Contemporary Museum instantly give the museum's “world-class” title credibility. Now, all the art can be put in the context of 5,000 years of art from around the world, spanning from a Neolithic Chinese stoneware jar to a mixed-media wall relief sculpture by Frank Stella.

In addition, the merger has made contemporary art more accessible to the public, and reflects a commitment to all cultures and types of art, including the great art of today.

Did the Academy “buy” the Contemporary Museum?

No, The Contemporary Museum’s collection and assets were a gift to the Academy.