11 February 2016
New information about RAMM’s Pacific collections is being incorporated into new displays in the World Cultures gallery.
The importance of many of objects acquired from the earliest historic voyages contributed towards RAMM’s World Cultures collection being officially designated a pre-eminent collection of national and international importance: the second and third voyages of Captain Cook, Captain Bligh’s second breadfruit voyage and the Captain George Vancouver’s voyage in search of a Pacific Northwest passage. New research has focused on collections from Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, including the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, and the activities of lesser-known donors such as C.V. Molony, Arnold Riley, Henry Leah and Henry John Rendall Gould.
Project partners include the British Museum, the Sainsbury Research Unit (SCVA), University College London and independent scholars. Anthropologists whose fieldwork in the Pacific remains active and scholars of Pacific descent have added Oceanic perspectives.
The redisplay of the Pacific collection will be completed by April. A World Cultures related blog will keep you up to date with its progress.
New findings include
A dozen Aboriginal items brought by the first Australian Aboriginal cricket team to tour the UK and donated to RAMM by W.R. Hayman on 29 October 1868.
An item described only as a ‘preserved banana’ is actually a wrapped plantain that served as a votive offering during the important first fruits ceremonies. These items are incredibly rare in museum collections.
The collection of armour from Kiribati (pronounced ‘Kiribass’) includes a rare and unusual helmet. The collection was included in a UK-wide survey conducted by the British Museum.
Investigations into three culturally modified crania; two ancestor skulls from Vanuatu and a trophy head from Papua New Guinea have added knowledge about their cultural context, the donors and how they were acquired.
RAMM’s Discovering Worlds project is an ambitious programme of new research, conservation, documentation and reinterpretation of RAMM’s Pacific collections funded by the Arts Council England’s Designation Development Fund. RAMM’s World Cultures collection is recognised by Arts Council England’s Designation Scheme as a pre-eminent collection of national and international importance.