When you simply want to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Big Island, get on over to the Volcano Art Center. A trip to this gallery allows you to admire the lush landscape across Volcanoes National Park before stepping into a world of local artwork. Built in 1877 as the Volcano House Hotel, even the gallery itself is a true sight to behold.
So, no matter when you’re on the island, it’s a great idea to swing by to take a peek at all the magnificence awaiting your arrival. The gallery owners make it easy to plan your visit, too. They are open seven days a week year-round. In fact, they only close once a year for Christmas Day.
Whenever you come by, you’re not just invited to take in the incredible views. You can also buy whatever gallery pieces catch your eye – and stick around to learn all about the history and culture of the island. They invite new artists to fill out the gallery space all the time, keeping their collections ever-changing for your pure enjoyment.
Works of art from hundreds of local artists fill the space as a result, often reflecting the given theme for the season. On each visit, you can browse them all at your leisure. Just be sure to note all your favorites along the way. Once you make it to the end of the collection, you can go back and decide if you’d like to buy any of the ones on display. All the works of art make excellent statement pieces for your own home – and they’re much-appreciated gifts for your friends, family, and coworkers.
On top of that, they go all out in holding special events encouraging the creation of collaborative works, like their Community Mosaic Project. They put every last piece on display, too, so you can admire the artistry that went into the works. If you time your visit just right, you can even participate in the creation process and see your own works on full display.
Performance arts land on their calendar more often than not as well. One Saturday a month, they invite Hula halau from all over the country for a sacred performance facing the Halemaumau Crater. At this can’t-miss event, the outdoor performance fills the air with chants, drums, and footsteps in honor of the volcano goddess Pele and the natural landscape all around. Want to hear stories passed down through the generations? Come by on the first Wednesday of each month for their Hula Voices event.
Every Friday, they host Hawaiian practitioners interested in sharing a piece of their culture with the public. Hula, ukulele, and chanting performers regularly put on an amazing show right on the porch of the gallery. Plus, these talented individuals may offer workshops on Kapa beating, lei making, lauhala weaving, and so much more.
Although the arts remain central to their vision, they never leave the beautiful natural landscape out of the fun. Want a free guided tour of the forest? Come by at 9:30 am on Monday mornings to join the group. Custom rainforest tours and forest restoration activities are available as well. There’s no charge, but a donation is appreciated.
-Want to know more about a particular work of art? Just ask the gallery staff for any extra info they have on the artist’s vision, talents, and background.
-If you plan on watching outdoor performances, going on a nature walk, or simply spending any amount of time outside, wear layers with a light jacket over it all. Since the landscape sits at a high elevation, it gets chilly fast.
-Wear closed-toe shoes, locally sourced bug spray, and reef-safe SPF 50+ sunblock if you want to go explore the landscape around the center.