Palace Collections

Recover, Restoration and Preservation

Following the overthrow of the monarchy, Provisional Government officials inventoried the contents of ʻIolani Palace and sold all of the furniture or furnishings that were not suitable for government operations at public auction. The Friends of ʻIolani Palace, as part of its mission to preserve, restore, and share the spirit of ʻIolani 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 Palace Objects

Palace objects that were sold and dispersed at public auction have slowly been recovered from 36 states and 4 foreign countries. Despite the return of many items, the quest to find original Palace furnishings and artifacts continues as many of the original furnishings are still missing.

The public has been instrumental in helping to recover items that were once in the Palace, from porcelain plates returned from Australia to a table found in the Iowa Governor’s mansion to a chair sitting in a local thrift store.

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 much more difficult to verify, but it’s always helpful to trace the history of each artifact with the name of owners. Monarchy era photos of Palace rooms, people and events also provide valuable information about original Palace furnishings.

If you think you may have original furniture, articles, historic photos or any information about the whereabouts of original palace furnishings, please contact the Collections Manager.

View Objects the Palace Seeks to Return Home

Palace Collections artifacts

Historic Photos

Monarchy era photos of Palace rooms, people, and events provide valuable information about original Palace furnishings. The Palace curator's office references many such photos to identify original palace objects or items having a royal connection. If you have a photo that may help with this research, please contact the Collections Manager.

Historic photos may help you identify or begin to ask questions about objects that you have or know about.

View The Palace Historic Photos Collection

Palace Collections historic photos

Identifying Marks

Unique markings, patterns or insignia that can be linked to the Palace or to Hawaiian royalty can identify many of the original Palace objects.

Review Samples Of The Various Identifying Marks

Palace Collections identifying marks

“Most Wanted” List

Plans are underway to restore the King’s Bedroom, Queen’s Bedroom and Music room, but after more than 40 years of searching, some of the largest pieces of furniture are still missing.

View The "Most Wanted" List

Sample Collections

It may be helpful to compare an item to items in the Palace collection to see if there are similarities.

Tableware, Glassware and Silver
Works on Paper: Stationary, Invitations, Menus, Placecards, Etc.
The Davenport Order and Other Furniture
Military Accessories, Objects, and Clothing
Royal Orders
Other Objects and Furnishings

Published Inventories

In addition to historic photos and newspaper accounts, the Curatorial Department uses inventory lists 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 or the Bishop Museum Archives:
  • A.H. Davenport Furniture Order
  • King's Library Book Inventory
  • King's Jubilee Birthday Gift List
  • 1924 Queen's Jewelry Auction List

Success Stories

Read about the acquisition and conservation treatment of original ʻIolani Palace artifacts: