Picturing Hawai‘i

Grades: 3-4
Tour length:
 1.5 hours
 900 S. Beretania Street
 Tuesday – Friday
 9 + 10:30am
Group Size:
 60 maximum 
Request this tour: Fall 2015 | Spring 2016

Help your students prepare for the tour in two ways: Have an interactive discussion about museum etiquette. ​Practice looking at art. Click here for more information.​


Our updated Picturing Hawai‘i tour takes students through our permanent collection of traditional art of Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands. Through these two galleries, students will see the changes and continuity of Hawaiian culture following Western contact. During the tour, students will role play the thoughts of the Hawaiians, explorers, merchants, missionaries, modern artists, and tourists to understand different viewpoints. Engaging hands-on activities will stimulate deep looking and critical thinking. Students will create a visual timeline using reproductions of the art and write a picture postcard expressing one viewpoint of change in Hawai‘i. This tour meets specific Hawai‘i Department of Education Benchmarks listed below and includes a colorful take home booklet for each student.

Artwork on this tour:
John Webber, 1784, A Canoe of the Sandwich Islands, the Rowers Masked, (11815.51)

Eugene Savage (American, 1883-1978), A God Appears, oil on canvas. Collection Matson. (Pictured above)

Robert Dampier (British, 1800–1874), Kamehameha III (detail) 1825. Oil on canvas. Gift of Eliza Lefferts Cooke, Charles M. Cooke III, and Carolene Alexander Cooke Wrenn in memory of Dr. C. Montague Cooke, Jr., 1951 (1066.1).

Theodore Wores. The Lei Maker, Hawaiʻi, 1901. Oil on canvas. Gift of Drs. Ben and A. Jess Shenson, 1986 (5490.1).


Add these films to your tour for FREE in the Doris Duke Theater following the 9am tour Tuesday - Friday.

E Ho‘omau! Animated Shorts
See local filmmakers’ beautifully animated renditions of traditional Hawaiian stories from the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning animated short-film series E Ho‘omau!,

E Ho‘omau! (to persevere; to learn from the past and perpetuate the good) is a culturally rich curriculum development project funded under the Native Hawaiian Education Program of the U.S. Department of Education

Why Maui Snared The Sun
Directed, produced and animated by Michael Q. Ceballos. 2011. USA. 19 mins.
Long ago, Kalā (the sun) raced across the sky as he pleased, leaving the land and its people with short days and long, dark nights. Among those suffering from the lack of daylight was the goddess Hina, mother of Māui, the demigod. In order to make things pono (right), Māui summons all his courage and travels to the highest summit of Haleakalā, where he confronts the Mighty Kalā.

The Menehune and the Birds
Directed, produced and animated by Michael Q. Ceballos. 2011. USA. 23 mins.
Kēhau, a young Menehune boy, and his best friend, a little ‘elepaio bird, discover that a group of men has been killing the birds of the Kaua‘i rainforest in order to harvest their feathers faster. Kēhau and the ‘elepaio seek out the Menehune Chief and his warriors to help save their friends and find a way to change the habits of these men or risk losing the beautiful birds forever.

Pele Searches for a Home
Directed, produced and animated by Michael Q. Ceballos. 2011. USA. 25 mins.
Pele, the primal force of volcanic heat and lava, leaves her ancient home of Kahiki and searches out a new home for herself and her family. As she travels down the Hawaiian island chain, she is pursued by and battles her eldest sister Nāmaka, the goddess of water and the sea. After a climactic battle on the island of Maui, she finally finds refuge in Kīlauea on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

Hawai‘i Department of Education Benchmarks

Social Studies
SS.4.1.1 Describe both change and continuity of aspects of Hawaiian culture (including religion, land use, and social systems)
SS.4.3.3 Describe the cultural contributions of different groups to the development of Hawai‘i
SS.4.3.4 Describe the theories of early migrations from parts of Polynesia to Hawai‘i, including migration myths and legends
SS.4.3.5 Identify reasons that early explorers, settlers, and immigrants came to Hawai‘i (including the influence of Pa‘ao) or the Polynesian region and describe what their lives and experiences were like.
SS.4.3.7 Describe the interactions (including economic exchanges and wars) among different cultural and ethnic groups in early Hawai‘i
SS.4.6.3 Describe the changes in Hawaiian culture through contact with Westerners
WL.IE.4.1.1 Engage in conversations about likes, dislikes, and personal preferences (role-play)

Return to guided school tours.