Shangri La is a center for Islamic arts and cultures, offering guided tours, residencies for scholars and artists, and programs with the purpose of improving understanding of the Islamic world. Built in 1937 as the Honolulu home of American heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke (1912-1993), Shangri La was inspired by Duke’s extensive travels throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia and reflects architectural traditions from India, Iran, Morocco and Syria.
The mission of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) is to promote the study and understanding of Islamic arts and cultures.
Built in Honolulu, Hawai‘i from 1936-1938, Shangri La overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head and houses Doris Duke’s collection of Islamic art. Of the many homes that 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 Hawai‘i. Finding herself captivated by Islamic art and architecture and enamored with Hawai‘i, Duke designed her new home in collaboration with architect Marion Sims Wyeth to evoke the beauty and character of each.
For nearly 60 years, Doris Duke continued to collect Islamic art, ultimately forming a collection of about 2,500 objects, many of which are embedded into the structure of the house. Iranian ceramic tile panels, carved and painted ceilings from Morocco, jalis (perforated screen) doors and windows, and textiles and carpets create a living environment of Islamic art and architectural decoration. Today, Shangri La is nationally recognized for its high artistic value and as one of Hawai‘i’s most architecturally significant homes. It is open to the public for guided tours and educational programs such as lectures, performances and occasional symposia. Shangri La also supports residencies for contemporary artists and for scholars researching Islamic art.