The Honolulu Museum of Art announced today that its board of trustees has decided to put the historic Spalding House property in Makiki Heights up for sale.
The move will allow the museum to focus its resources on its main campus on South Beretania Street. Several farewell events are planned for the fall, with the Spalding House’s final closure planned by the end of the year.
“This is a very difficult decision that comes with a lot of mixed emotion,” said trustee and interim museum Director Mark Burak in a news release. “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.”
Honolulu Academy of Arts founder Anna Rice Cooke built Spalding House in 1925 as a residential property, naming it Nu‘umealani, or Heavenly Terrace. Cooke’s daughter Alice Spalding acquired the residential property in 1934.
In 1968 the Honolulu Academy of Art, now known as the Honolulu Museum of Arts, acquired the property at the bequest of Spalding. The 5,000-square-foot property at 2411 Makiki Heights Drive was then sold to Honolulu Advertiser publisher and philanthropist Thurston Twigg-Smith, who lived there several years with his family before gifting the property as the Contemporary Museum in 1988.
The Contemporary Museum operated as an independent museum until it returned to the fold of the Honolulu Academy of Arts as a gift in May 2011.
An ad hoc committee commissioned by HoMA’s board of trustees conducted a detailed evaluation of the overall economics and potential for Spalding House, and decided it would be best to sell it.
“The committee concluded unanimously that it would be to the long-term benefit of HoMA to prepare Spalding House for sale,” said Jim Pierce, trustee and chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee, in the release. “We are fortunate to have a board and employees who carefully evaluate all options for the future and are continually making changes to ensure that we maintain the solid financial footing necessary to fulfill our mission. Making and enabling this decision has been determined to represent good business practice for the long term.”
Current Spalding House employees will work at the main museum and art school. The artwork owned by HoMA at Spalding House will also be added to the rotation of displays at its Beretania campus and art school.