October 14, 2017 – May 13, 2018

For the first time in Germany, the large special exhibition of the state of Baden-Württemberg focused on the art and culture, history and present of the Hawaiian Islands. Impressive works of art and everyday objects gave an insight into life on those islands, whose society changed from a Polynesian kingdom to a modern state in less than 150 years.

The exhibition ranged from the oldest surviving objects from the time of the explorer James Cook, who landed on Hawai’i at the end of the 18th century, to today’s lively art scene. It conveyed a multifaceted picture and emphasized the society, culture and history of the Native Hawaiians.

The Polynesian society and the social and political upheavals caused by the economic and power interests of the USA were discussed. The exhibition asked about the origin of the objects and took a critical look at the image of Hawai’i that was created in Europe. Valuable feathered coats and helmets of the nobility, everyday objects such as fishing hooks and vessels, printed fabrics made of bark bast or sculptures testify to great craftsmanship. Historical developments were related to current ones: the invention of surfing with the famous surfing competitions, modern variations of the narrative hula dance with traditional rhythm instruments, music and art as a critical examination of social injustice, environmental destruction or as an expression of the independence movement.

Around 250 high-caliber objects from international lenders and from the Linden-Museum collection were presented in atmospheric displays over an area of 1000 square meters.

Action booklet and Hawai’i game for kids

For children, there was a free activity booklet “In the middle of the sea” to accompany the exhibition: Leilani and Keanu talk about life on the islands and set tricky tasks. The booklet was made possible by the Gesellschaft für Erd- und Völkerkunde e.V.

There was also a smartphone game that guided visitors through the Hawai’i exhibition: “Aloha – Kekoa’s Journey” was developed by students at Stuttgart Media University as part of the “Code for Culture” project of the Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg and could be played in the exhibition.

Large exhibition of the state of Baden-Württemberg

Funded by:
Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg

Media partner:
National Geographic