Hawai‘i State Capitol
Living Local
: Simon Crookall
Text By
Simon Crookall
Images By
John Hook &
Jonas Maon

Simon Crookall, general director of Hawaii Opera Theatre. Portrait by Allison Kronberg.

Artful Honolulu

From mauka to makai, the south shore is a non-stop sensory experience and a masterpiece in its own right, according to Hawaii Opera Theatre’s Simon Crookall.

As the general director of Hawaii Opera Theatre, Simon Crookall is tasked with presenting a vibrant spectrum of stage productions with multi-generational appeal. He is constantly mindful about how to see old places in new, fresh lights. Crookall, a Brit-turned-kama‘āina, shares his favorite venues for remaining mentally stimulated around his Honolulu backyard. — Matthew Dekneef

Of course, the beautiful scenery and nature of Hawai‘i are the best natural artwork one could ever hope to see. The beaches and the mountains provide wonderful inspiration for the many artists living in these islands, and the incredible variety of foods, from poke to the shrimp shacks on the North Shore, whet the appetite for more. And, who can resist a delicious shave ice at the end of a beautiful day? For venues for man-made art, however, I have a few recommendations:

Hawai‘i State Capitol

the Hawai‘i State Capitol, completed in 1969; its architecture reflects the natural landscape of Hawai‘i: the ocean, the volcanoes, and the vegetation.

For world-class art
With more than 50,000 artworks on two sites, the Honolulu Museum of Art is a rich treasure house of art that will take several visits to truly discover. Highlights include the stunning collections of Asian art from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. The 20th-century collection includes works by the great French Impressionists, such as Claude Monet and Fernand Léger, as well as American modernists like Georgia O’ Keeffe and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Be sure to take a break in the delightful Museum Café before continuing on to Spalding House, which hosts the museum’s contemporary galleries.
Honolulu Museum of Art gallery
Honolulu Museum of Art back lawn
For musical theatre
Hawaii Opera Theatre continues to produce world-class opera at the Blaisdell Concert Hall and other venues around the state. The current season includes classic favorites, such as Georges Bizet’s ever-popular Carmen and Tchaikovsky’s romantic Eugene Onegin, as well as lesser-known works like Gaetano Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment and Laura Kaminsky’s 2014 sensation As One. 
Carmen by Hawaii Opera Theatre
For a lovely serenade
For a cultural activity with Hawaiian flavor, nothing beats the Halekulani’s own House Without a Key, where you can sip a delicious mai tai and watch the sun set over Waikīkī while being entertained by some of the best Hawaiian musicians and hula dancers on the island. Don’t miss the gorgeous dancing of Debbie Nakanelua-Richards on Sunday evenings!
For historic architecture
The cultural center of Honolulu contains some remarkable buildings, each with their own unique history. ‘Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States, and was the home of the Hawaiian royal family throughout the 19th century. Nearby is the Hawai‘i State Capitol, completed in 1969; its architecture reflects the natural landscape of Hawai‘i: the ocean, the volcanoes, and the vegetation. Across the street stands Washington Place, the official residence of the Governor of Hawai‘i, and the former home and place of imprisonment of Hawai‘i’s last monarch, Queen Lili‘uokalani. Next to Washington Place is the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, founded by King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma in the style of an English cathedral.
Hawai‘i State Capitol
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