Isaacs Art Center

We are thrilled to announce a new show coming to Isaacs Art Center in November. 

The Big Island Ukulele Guild will open an exhibition of their unique instruments on Friday, November 15th. The luthiers will share stories about the art of making and playing the ukulele and its rich history. The show closes on Wednesday, November 27th. 

The guild, founded in 2001, is a diverse group dedicated to making the finest stringed instruments. They are committed to sharing that knowledge with others through fellowship, quarterly meetings, educational workshops, and exhibitions.

We are so pleased to host this dedicated group of musicians!


History of the ukulele

The ‘Ukulele (pronounced “oo-koo-le-le”) was brought to Hawai’i by Portuguese immigrants who called it a machete. The most popular story was that it was a particular favorite of an official in the court of King Kalakaua, a former British army officer named Edward Purvis. Purvis was a sprightly, lively fellow, and rather petite. These qualities had at some point earned him a nickname that translates as "jumping flea." In Hawaiian, the word is ukulele (from ╩Żuku, "flea," and lele, "jumping"). Mr. Ukulele became so closely associated with the instrument that his nickname became the name by which the instrument was known.

King David Kalakaua can be attributed not only with the “Merrie Monarch”, our annual hula competition, but also the popularity boom of the ‘ukulele. King Kalakaua was an excellent composer and he loved playing his ‘ukulele. So, of course, he made playing the ‘ukulele very fashionable. The ‘ukulele grew in popularity. Prior to the ‘ukulele, Hawaiians relied mainly on percussion implements to accompany their hula and chant. Now, they had found a perfect way to accompany themselves melodically.