Pacific Presences: Oceanic Art in European Museums

Project: Research

Project Details


This 5-year project explores major ethnographic collections that entered European museums during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and have remained largely unstudied since. Focussing on materials from the Pacific that are now in museums in Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom, the project uses innovative cross-disciplinary methods to advance understandings of materiality, cross-cultural history, and museum policy and practice in Europe today. The team of researchers based at the Museums of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, worked with a network of collaborators, including elders, community members and contemporary artists in the Pacific Islands, to provide a range of expert, customary, and experimental perspectives upon art works and genres, and upon the questions raised by collection histories and museum environments. The project's Principal Investigator was Prof Nicholas Thomas Anthropologist, historian of anthropology and Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, and the project was funded by the European Research Council (ERC).
Effective start/end date1/05/1330/04/18


  • NX Arts in general
  • contemporary art
  • practice-led research
  • indigenous art
  • GN Anthropology
  • ethnographic collections
  • artefacts
  • D204 Modern History
  • European colonial history
  • DU Oceania (South Seas)
  • Colonial contact


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