American Museum of Natural History. Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples.

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Exist Dates

1971 - present

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened May 19, 1971. Located on Floor 3, Section 8. The Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples at the American Museum of Natural History explores the diverse cultures of the South Pacific. Anthropologist and longtime Museum curator Margaret Mead provided the foundation for the hall through her expeditions to Samoa, New Guinea, and Bali (3). Philip C. Gifford and Elizabeth Nickerson assisted Mead in the original development of the hall; and Gifford was appointed scientific advisor for the hall's renovation and reinstallation which was completed in December 1984 (1, 1969/70, p. 18; 1, 1978/79, p. 14).

The Hall of Pacific Peoples was developed to replace two out-of-date halls that had been previously closed, the Philippine Hall and the South Sea Island Hall and was part of the Museum's 10-year exhibition program ahead of its 150th anniversary (1, 1965/64, p. 4-5). The hall was reorganized from approximately 1976 and 1984 with support from the Margaret Mead Fund. Additional funding for the hall was also received from Evelyn A. J. Hall and Yvonne Freund (1, 1976/77, p. 28; 1, 1983/84, p. 12).

Margaret Mead organized the hall into six major cultural areas: Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, which are color-coded. Artifacts in the hall include feather cloaks from Hawaii, spirit masks from New Guinea, coconut-fiber armor from Kiribati, Australian boomerangs, batik cloth and shadow puppets from Indonesia, a bolo knife from Philippines, and a Maori chief's carved storehouse from New Zealand. Highlights include the entrance exhibit on the career of Margaret Mead, the iconic moai cast from Rapa Nui (Easter Island), a Maori's chief's pataka (elevated storage house) with whale images carved into front gable, and a Maori weapons case. Other exhibits include model canoes, miniature models, including a Manus village in the Admiralty Islands, a burial ceremony of the Warramunga of Australia, and a ceremonial dance in Bali, while music from various regions is played throughout the hall. A Changing Pacific, a modern installation of 2016, produced with the Columbia University/AMNH Museum Anthropology Master of Arts Program and in consultation with members of the Pacific diasporic community showcases contemporary cultural objects and addresses modern issues experienced by Pacific Islanders (2, 1993, p. 46; 3; 4, 2016).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1964/65-1983/84.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. Official Guide to the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1993.
    (3) American Museum of Natural History, "Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples" American Museum of Natural History, accessed May 19, 2017, http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/human-origins-and-cultural-halls/margaret-mead-hall-of-pacific-peoples.
    (4) American Museum of Natural History, "Artifacts of a Changing Pacific Now On View." American Museum of Natural History, November 4, 2016, accessed May 19, 2017, http://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/on-exhibit-posts/artifacts-of-a-changing-pacific-now-on-view/.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1960 (page 25, 63); 1961 (page 21); 1962 (page 6, 58); 1963 (page 21, 70); 1964 (page 29); 1965 (page 4, 5, 74); 1966 (page 29, 80); 1967 (page 24, 80); 1968 (page 18); 1969 (page 18, 39); 1970 (page 18); 1974 (page 7); 1976 (page 4, 28); 1977 (page 24); 1978 (page 6, 7, 14, 54); 1979 (page 3, 14, 52); 1980 (page 8, 10, 53); 1981 (page 48); 1982 (page 2, 51); 1983 (page 12); 1984 (page 1, 52, 61-62, 66,); 1985 (page 64); 1987 (page 73); 1989 (page 61); 1990 (page 6); 1991 (page 78); 1992 (page 17)
    American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction, 1972, page 7, 132
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guides for years 1984 (page 53); 1993 (page 46, 50); 2001 (page 36, 62)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 3, Section 8.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Collections from the Philippine Islands
The Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples replaced the Collections from the Philippine Islands and South Sea Island Hall of a part the Museum's 10-year exhibition program (1, 1965/64, p. 4-5).
Gifford, Philip Collins 1919-2000-
Department of Anthropology, assisted Margaret Mead in development of hall (1, 1969/70, p. 18).
Harvey, David, 1950-
Exhibition Department, worked on exhibit showcasing art and artifacts of contemporary Pacific Island communities (4, 2016).
Kendall, Laurel
Curator, worked on exhibit showcasing art and artifacts of contemporary Pacific Island communities (4, 2016).
Mead, Margaret 1901-1978
Museum Anthropologist, initially developed hall, hall named for her.
Newell, JenniferExternal link
Curator, worked on exhibit showcasing art and artifacts of contemporary Pacific Island communities (4, 2016).
Nickerson, Elizabeth
Exhibition Department, assisted Margaret Mead in development of hall (1, 1969/70, p. 18).
South Sea Island Hall
The Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples replaced the Collections from the Philippine Islands and South Sea Island Hall of a part the Museum's 10-year exhibition program (1, 1965/64, p. 4-5).

Related Resources

subjectOf
Historic Halls of the American Museum of Natural History
Curated digital images of permanent halls in the American Museum of Natural History Library, Digital Special Collections.

Written by: Clare O'Dowd
Last modified: 2018 December 7


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