The BMA cares for one of the nation’s most important collections of Oceanic art with over 450 works dating back to the 18th century from all of the major regions.
For the first time in the BMA’s history, the Museum has dedicated galleries exclusively to the presentation of its encyclopedic collection of Oceanic artworks, giving guests the opportunity to experience artworks from the Pacific Islands during every visit.
The new installation is a chronological survey of Oceanic art, beginning with a work created by a Lapita artist around 1500 BCE. Attention to artworks from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, such as an exquisite sperm whale ivory breastplate from Fiji, a monumental grade figure from Ambrym Island, and storyboard carving by the Palauan artist Ngiraibuuch Skedong, highlight how European colonialism, World War II, and post-colonial economic globalization affected the form, function, and circulation of artworks across the Pacific. Western Oceanic works, particularly those from New Ireland and the Sepik River, stand out, as do pieces of jewelry worn by chiefs and royalty from eastern Oceanic states like Tonga, Fiji, and Hawai’i.