The Queen's Artifacts

Treasured artifacts that once belonged to Queen Liliʻuokalani

about The Queen

Arriving as a young bride in 1862, Queen Liliʻuokalani would live the majority of her life at Washington Place.  Within these walls, she would lose a brother, a husband, a kingdom.  Despite all of this, Queen Liliʻuokalani, last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian kingdom, chose to remain at Washington Place as a symbol of strength for her people.  She would raise hānai children and grandchildren, grow navel oranges, and have a pet turtle.  In 1909, she would execute a deed of trust that led to the development of Lili‘uokalani Trust; which is still in existence today.  After 55 years of her life at Washington Place, Queen Liliʻuokalani passed away at 8:30am on November 11, 1917 at the age of 79.

The Queen’s Artifacts

The Queen’s Piano

Intending to be a 53rd birthday gift to Queen Lili‘uokalani, the piano was presented to her majesty on April 23rd, 1892 at ‘Iolani Palace. It was christened on the evening of May 12, 1892, a musical splendor at the Palace. The throne was resplendent with glowing lights of crystal chandeliers and over 150 guests. Queen Lili‘uokalani had multiple pianos; however, when people refer to The Queen’s Piano, it is most likely this one. Made from koa, the tree from the island of Hawai‘i, was hand-selected and shipped to the J & C Fisher Piano Company of New York. Fashioned from 2 ⅛ inch layers of Acacia Koa Veneer and 7 layers of filler wood, the piano’s large, flat and curving surfaces were once shaved of reddish-brown. Over the years, these colors have mellowed to shades of yellow-gold.

Twin gold-painted letter L’s, surmounted by a crown on either side, adorned both the outside and inside of this grand piano. Hand-painted Kalākaua coats of arms decorate the piano’s right side and center of the keyboard’s outside cover.

Although on loan from Hawai‘i State Archives, we know the piano has been at Washington Place since at least the year 1910, the Queen’s time. During the 1918-1920 inventory, the piano was sent to James Bergstrom’s Honolulu Music Company for repair. The Territory of Hawai‘i purchased it in 1939. But despite these transitions, the beloved piano of the Queen still remains the center and inspiration for a splendid event at Washington Place.

The Queen’s Portrait

The life-size portrait of Queen Lili‘uokalani is an oil painting by William Cogswell, dated 1882. Cogswell, an American artist, is best known for his portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and William McKinley. Painted from a photograph detail by detail, except for the background, Queen Lili‘uokalani commissioned and paid Cogswell $1,500.

Measuring 9 feet x 6 inches high and 6 feet x 6 inches wide, this ornate painting was too large and was propped against the wall. Under Governor John Waihe‘e III, a reproduction of the original was commissioned at a smaller scale, and the original was returned to ‘Iolani Palace. No matter the painting, this larger-than-life portrait reminds us of her spirit and presence at the Washington Place.

View Other Exhibits

Governors of the State of Hawaiʻi

Personal accounts of Washington Place through the perspectives of past Hawaiʻi State governors.


Washington Place

320 South Beretania St

Honolulu, HI 96813