Art of the Pacific Islands in The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Eric Kjellgren

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In aesthetic quality, significance, and scope, the Metropolitan Museum’s Oceanic, or Pacific Islands, collection is one of the finest and most comprehensive in the world. This generously illustrated volume features some 200 masterworks from the more than 2,600 objects currently in the collection, and it is published to coincide with the opening of the Museum’s new galleries of Oceanic art.


An overview of Oceanic art and a history of the Metropolitan’s collection are followed by detailed chapters devoted to each of the five major cultural regions of the Pacific: Australia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and the islands of Southeast Asia. Among the notable works discussed are a monumental Baining barkcloth figure, a spectacular shield from the Solomon Islands, the Museum’s renowned Torres Strait mask and acclaimed Mangarevan wooden male figure, a weather charm from the Caroline Islands, and textiles from the regions of Lampung and Sumba, in Sumatra. A glossary and selected bibliography conclude this essential guide.

Eric Kjellgren is Evelyn A. J. Hall and John A. Friede Associate Curator for Oceanic Art, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is the principal author of Adorning the World: Art of the Marquesas Islands (MMA/Yale, 2005) and of Splendid Isolation: Art of Easter Island (MMA/Yale, 2001).

"Documents the history of one of the most important collections of Oceanic art in the United States. . . . The catalogue would serve nicely as a teaching tool."—Jennifer Wagelie, Aotearoa Quarterly

"[A general readership] will find much reliably sourced information, presented in a readable and visually appealing manner. . . . I compliment the author, photographer(s), book designer and publishers on a fine production."—Roderick Ewins, Pacific Affairs

 " [Oceania] is an exploration of the great variety of Pacific culture, and reflects the authors' authority on the subject and their long standing engagement with the Islander communities." -- British Museum Magazine

 "A two-brick book weighty enough to smash the mould of Oceanic art studies. Stretching from ancient pots to urban graffiti, it investigates migrations, wars, colonial style, tourist items and contemporary art. Chapter are scholarly, but accessible, the photos stunning, the layout impeccable. A feast of a tome." -- Jeremy MacClancy, Times Higher Education.

 "Extraordinary....Pinpointing an incredibly variety of Pacific cultures, from the Highlands of New Guinea to settlements in New Zealand, the sheer magnitude of knowledge to which this book extends far surpasses any studied conducted previously." -- Fiona Martin, Aesthetica.

 "A must have....If you only ever see the need to own one book on Oceanic art this is the book you should buy." -- Roger Fyfe, Museum Anthropology Quarterly.
ISBN: 9780300120301
Publication Date: December 3, 2007
Co-publisher: Published in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art
368 pages, 8 x 11
71 b/w + 232 color illus., 2 maps