Historic Washington Place to reopen with new exhibitsPosted on Nov 29, 2017 in Capitol Connection, Featured
There’s something about Washington Place that stirs some of our deepest emotions. Maybe it’s the memories of Queen Lili‘uokalani and the life she lived there. Or the milestones the historic home has seen. Or the stories from past territorial and state governors who have shaped Hawai‘i.
That’s why First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige and the Washington Place staff have been working with the Washington Place Foundation on a $1.5 million restoration project to transform the entire second floor of the historic mansion into a public exhibit area as a legacy for future generations. Until 2002 when a new residence was built, Washington Place was the official home of 12 Hawai‘i governors. However, for the past few years second floor access has been limited due to needed repairs.
“To open up the second floor to the community, we had to address many health and safety issues such as structural reinforcement, wiring and new LED lights for energy efficiency,” explained the first lady. Now, the public will be able to see several refurbished rooms, with photos, memorabilia and artifacts from the queen, the Dominis family and photos from former governors.
The public will be able to view the new exhibits on Friday, Dec. 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Washington Place Foundation Annual Christmas Open House. A second free public event will be the ‘Aha Mele on Dec. 16 from 2 to 6 p.m.
As host and hostess of Washington Place, Governor Ige and the first lady have held many events at the historic home. The landmark has grown into a place for the community to gather for tours, musical events and to learn about our state’s history. “We created the organic garden with the help of students to reflect the governor’s initiative on sustainability. We also want to bring more children here to appreciate what the home means to the people of Hawai’i,” Amano-Ige said.
“The new exhibits include personal items from Lili‘uokalani before she became queen; artifacts from the Dominis collection; photos from past governors of their families and dignitaries; and a history of the building’s changes through the years,” said Cynthia Engle, curator of Washington Place. Musicians also will be able to use the He Ku‘ono Mele composition room (music niche) to honor the queen’s vision of preserving Hawaiian language and music.
Cameron Heen, director of Washington Place, added, “We wanted to share the queen’s love of Hawaiian music and pay tribute to her accomplishments. The queen composed more than 165 songs and chants, including the famous ‘Aloha Oe.’ We hope this project gives people a window into the queen’s life, a sense of the families who lived here, and what Washington Place meant to them.”