Visit Shangri La, where Doris Duke paired gorgeous Hawaiian landscapes with a large collection of Islamic art.
Built in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1937, Shangri La overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head and houses Doris Duke’s collection of Islamic art. Of the many homes that Doris Duke inhabited, Shangri La is the only one that she built from the ground up and filled from the inside out.
Doris Duke decided to build a seasonal home in Honolulu after her honeymoon in 1935, which took her through the Islamic world for the first time and included an extended stay in Hawaii. Finding herself captivated by Islamic cultures and enamored with Hawaii, Doris Duke designed her new home in collaboration with architect Marion Sims Wyeth to evoke the beauty and character of each. Shangri La borrows architectural elements and artistic sensibilities from regions of the Islamic world, and blends them with a distinctly Hawaiian landscape that features sweeping ocean views, exotic gardens and a 75-foot saltwater pool.
For nearly 60 years, Doris Duke continued to commission and collect artifacts for Shangri La, ultimately forming a collection of about 3,500 objects. Massive painted ceilings, elaborately carved doorways, intricate mosaic tile panels, colorful textiles and ceramics, and numerous other art forms enliven the interiors and create an environment rich in texture and pattern.
In the same manner that her father transformed Duke Farms from flat New Jersey farmland into his ideal of a magnificently landscaped country estate, Doris Duke transformed five acres of Hawaii into her own private Shangri La, a place for creative self-expression and a haven from the unwanted publicity that came with being one of the wealthiest women in the world.
Today, Shangri La serves as a center for the study and appreciation of Islamic arts and culture, offering educational programs such as residencies, lectures, performances and panel discussions among other special events. It is also recognized as one of Hawaii’s most architecturally significant homes and is open to the public for guided, small group tours.
Shangri La is owned and managed by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA), an operating foundation which is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and which Doris Duke created in her will to promote the study and understanding of Islamic arts and cultures.
In partnership with the DDFIA, the Honolulu Academy of Arts serves as the orientation center for tours to Shangri La and also as a venue for educational programs on Islamic art and culture.