October 14, 2017 - May 13, 2018

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

The exhibition spans from the oldest surviving objects from the time of explorer James Cook, who landed in Hawai’i in the late 18th century, to today’s vibrant art scene. It presents a multi-faceted picture and focuses on the society, culture and history of Native Hawaiians.

The theme is the Polynesian rank society and the social and political upheavals caused by economic and power interests of the USA. The exhibition questions the origin of the objects and takes a critical look at the image that was created in Europe of Hawai’i. 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 are brought into relation with current ones: the invention of surfing with the famous surf competitions, modern variants of the narrative hula dance with traditional rhythm instruments, music and art as a critical confrontation with social injustice, environmental destruction or as an expression of the independence movement.

Around 250 top-class objects from international lenders and from the collection of the Linden Museum will be presented in atmospheric settings over an area of 1000 m².

Action booklet and Hawai’i game for kids

For children, there is a free activity booklet “Mitten im Meer” (In the middle of the sea) to accompany the exhibition: in it, Leilani and Keanu tell about life on the islands and set tricky tasks. The booklet is made possible by the Gesellschaft für Erd- und Völkerkunde e.V..

There is also a smartphone game that guides 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 Media and Film Society Baden-Württemberg and can be played in the exhibition.

Download: Accompanying program (pdf)


Large special exhibition of the state of Baden-Württemberg
Sponsored by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg
Media partner: National Geographic

Ever since humans discovered and settled the island worlds in the Pacific thousands of years ago, there have been many connections between the widely scattered land areas in the largest sea on earth.

In cooperation with:
Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, China Center Tübingen, HFT Stuttgart

With kind support:

Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Karl Schlecht Stiftung, Tübinger Vereinigung für Volkskunde e.V., Universitätsbund Tübingen e. V., Stiftung Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, Netzwerk transformierender Lehre in Baden-Württemberg, Verein Freunde Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart