The Mauna Kea Hotel Art Collection

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

Positioned along the Kohala coast of the Big Island, you will find the Mauna Kea Hotel. Its mid-century modern, architecture influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright is an apex of scenic beauty with environmental sensibilities and a priceless collection of museum-quality art. The hotel and its art collection was assembled more than 50 years ago by capitalist and conservationist, Laurance S. Rockefeller. Despite the hotel’s development site being located on an open lava field and lacking infrastructure, the Mauna Kea Hotel opened in 1965.

Rockefeller’s mother was co-founder of the Museum of Modern Art and his brother Nelson, founded the Museum of Primitive Art in New York City, consequently, Laurance was raised in a home where art was as much as a conversation as business, conservation and philanthropy. Laurance studied philosophy, the Buddhist religion and East-meets-West traditions.

Rockefeller believed spirituality of a ‘place’ should be tangible and the first ever of its kind – a resort hotel as an art museum was born. A multitude of global hotels have imitated ‘The Mark’ model, but none ever duplicated what Rockefeller accomplished – bringing to life a unique character of an Autograph Collection Hotel.

He wanted the art displayed as if in someone’s private home: accessible, unobtrusive and stimulating. In 1962-1963 he traveled to Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific Rim with a direct hand in the selection you see today. His two rules: none of the pieces were to come from a private collection and they needed to be authentic, originals from the country of origin.

Rockefeller’s vision came to life as the hotel’s architecture enhanced the 1,600-piece collection where today guests continue to discover and experience them up close. The priceless collection spotlights the Pacific Rim culture and spirituality with museum-quality pieces such as a 700 year-old-sculpture of the head of Buddha which was unearthed at a dig site during a damn development in Northern Thailand.

You can read about Mauna Kea Hotel’s distinguished art collection in the book titled “The Art of Mauna Kea.”

Guests and visitors are welcomed to view the works of art individually or join a complimentary guided art tour available Saturday mornings beginning at 10:00 a.m. Tours are led by Ms. Patti Cook who brings the collection to life with her stories of the art, architecture and the hotel’s history.

62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr
Waimea, HI 96743

(808) 882-7222

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