In partnership with the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco announced that they will be featuring the first major exhibition of Hawaiian featherwork to be mounted in the continental United States. The exhibit features more than 75 examples of featherwork including both long cloaks and short capes, royal staffs of feathers, feathered lei, and helmets.
The exhibit was brought to the de Young museum thanks to the sponsorships of several organizations and individuals, including the Michael Taylor Trust, Diane B. Wilsey, the Selz Foundation, Inc., Bank of the West, and the Thomas W. Weisel Family.
Christina Hellmich,curator in charge of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas explained how thrilled the museum was to present those works. “It is the first exhibition of Hawaiian art at the de Young and will provide an overdue opportunity for the public to see and learn about the distinctive art, culture and history of the islands through appreciation of one of their highest forms of art.”
According to the FAMSF website the presentation focuses on featherwork pieces made for Hawaiian royals beginning in the 18th century and ending in the early 20th century, although the actual act of gathering feathers from vibrantly colored birds and painstakingly constructing featherwork garments by hand dates back many centuries. The garments symbolized the divinity and power of the ruling men and women who wore them both for spiritual protection and to illustrate their social status.