Recovery, Restoration, and Preservation
After the overthrow of the monarchy, Provisional Government officials inventoried the contents of `Iolani Palace and sold at public auction whatever furniture or furnishings were not suitable for government operations. The Friends of `Iolani Palace, as part of its mission to preserve, restore, and share the spirit of `Iolani Palace, has endeavored to find, recover, and preserve original Palace and monarchy furnishings and objects, many of which have been scattered throughout the world.
Worldwide Search for Missing Artifacts
Palace objects sold and dispersed at public auction have been recovered from 36 states and 4 foreign countries -- from porcelain plates returned from Australia, and a table found in the Governor's mansion in Iowa, to a chair in a local thrift store. The quest to find original Palace furnishings and artifacts continues. Many original furnishings are still missing.
The public has been very instrumental in helping to recover items that were once in the Palace. The Curator's office uses historic photos, newspaper accounts, and a variety of inventory lists to research the history of artifacts. Documentation provided by donors has included an original bill of sale from a Palace auction or a monarchy era letter describing a gift from royalty. Family legend is more difficult to verify, but tracing the history of each artifact with names of owners is always helpful. If you think you may have original furniture or articles from the Palace, have any information about their whereabouts, please contact the Collections Manager.
"Most Wanted" List
Plans are underway to restore the King's Bedroom, Queen's Bedroom and the Music Room. After more than 40 years of searching, some of the largest pieces of furniture are still missing. The location of the ebony and gilt bed, dresser, and wardrobe ordered for King Kalakaua's bedroom from A.H. Davenport Co. of Boston remains unknown.
Monarchy-era photos of Palace rooms, people, and events provide valuable information about original Palace furnishings and items associated with Hawaiian royalty. The Palace curator's office references many such photos to identify original objects or items that have a royal connection. f you have a photo that may help with this research, please contact the Curatorial Department.
Historic photos may help to identify original Palace objects that you have or know about.
Help Restore Cherished Objects
Many Palace artifacts remain in storage because of a lack of conservation funds for their repair and restoration. Through the Pulama Ia Program, interested individuals or organizations can sponsor the restoration of specific objects in the Palace collection.
If you would like more information about this program and which objects are available for sponsorship, please contact the Curatorial Department.
Many of the original Palace objects have markings, patterns, or insignia on them that can help identify them as having belonged to the Palace or to Hawaiian royalty. Review samples of the various identifying marks here »
It may be helpful to compare an item to items in the Palace collection to see if there are similarities.
Inventory lists are used by the Curator's office, in addition to historic photos and newspaper accounts, to research the history of artifacts under consideration for acquisition. Original documents such as the following are available to researchers through the Hawaii State Archives (www.state.hi.us/dags/archives/) or
the Bishop Museum Archives (www.bishopmuseum.org/research/
- A.H. Davenport Furniture Order
- King's Library Book Inventory
- King's Jubilee Birthday Gift List
- 1924 Queen's Jewelry Auction List