After the overthrow of the monarchy, Provisional Government troops took control of the Palace. Government officials carefully inventoried its contents and sold at public auction whatever furniture or furnishings were not suitable for government operations.
`Iolani Palace became the government headquarters for the Provisional Government, Republic, Territory, and State of Hawai`i. During WWII, it served as the temporary headquarters for the military governor in charge of martial law in the Hawaiian Islands. Used for nearly three-quarters of a century as a government capitol building, the Palace fell into disrepair after years of abuse and neglect.
Government offices vacated the Palace in 1969 and moved to a newly constructed capitol building on land adjacent to the Palace grounds. Restoration of the Palace began in earnest.
In preparation for restoration, the Junior League of Honolulu funded and staffed an extensive historical research project. Researchers uncovered clues about construction, furnishings, and palace lifestyle in nineteenth-century newspapers, photographs and manuscripts found in various archives and libraries.
Overseeing the restoration was The Friends of `Iolani Palace , founded by Mrs. Lili`uokalani Kawananakoa Morris, grandneice of Queen Kapi`olani. This organization continues to manage `Iolani Palace as an historic house museum and to share the history of the Hawaiian monarchy.
`Iolani Palace opened to the public in 1978 after structural restoration of the building was completed.
Through the dedicated efforts of acquisitions researchers and professional museum staff, and the generosity of individuals, families and organizations, many original Palace objects have been returned.
Funding from government grants and private donations for conservation treatment and painstaking reproduction of original fabrics and finishes has resulted in the restoration of Palace rooms to their monarchy era appearance.
Many original Palace objects sold and dispersed at public auction have been recovered from different parts of the world – glassware found in Australia, and a table 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.
If you think you may have original Palace furniture or articles created for the Palace, have any information about the whereabouts of original Palace items, please contact the Curator, The Friends of `Iolani Palace. To learn more about the original objects, you can view examples and get more information in the Palace Collections area of this website .
Pūlama ‘Ia - Cherished Object Program
Many Palace artifacts remain in storage because of a lack of available conservation funds for repair and restoration. Through this unique program, any interested individual or organization may sponsor the restoration of a specific object in the Palace collection.
Read more about the Pūlama ‘Ia Program. If you would like more information about this program and which objects are available for sponsorship, please contact the Curator.