American Museum of Natural History. South Sea Island Hall.

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Exist Dates

1910 - approximately 1959-1961

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Located on Floor 4, Section 6. Opened 1910 and closed approximately 1959-1961. The South Sea Islands Hall at the American Museum of Natural History covered the ethnology of the South Pacific including Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. The hall was largely revised in 1914 (1, 1914, p. 74). The Drummond Collection, a gift of Katharine Wyman Drummond Herbert, featuring objects of carved jade and other Asian art, opened in the tower on April 6, 1934. Curators Robert Lowie and Margaret Mead and Museum artists Albert Operti and Sigurd Neandross made contributions to the hall (1, 1912, p. 71; 1, 1932, p. 65; 1, 1934, p. 8).

Major features of the South Sea Island Hall were mannequins of a Tahitian priest in a fire-walking ceremony scene, Tahitians grating coconut, preparing kava, and weaving, and a Maori warrior. Exhibits on view included tapa or bark cloth, masks, a Hawaiian feather cape, swinging picture frames with images of Samoan life, ceremonial adzes from the Cook Islands, a miniature model of a Manus village in the Admiralty Islands, and a cast of a moai from Easter Island, brought back from the Templeton Crocker Expedition in 1935 (2, 1911, p. 93; 2, 1913, p. 107-109; 2, 1921, p. 120; 2, 1939, p. 148). Some material from New Guinea was exhibited in the Philippine Hall for lack of room in the South Sea Island Hall (2, 1935, p. 132-133). The hall featured collections of material from Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, the Marquesas, the Gilbert, Marshall, and Caroline Islands, Fiji, the Bismarck archipelago, the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia (2, 1916, p. 132; 2, 1919, p. 120-121).

Located in the tower room of the hall, the Drummond Collection, more topically related to the Chinese and Siberian Hall, featured carvings of Chinese jade and amber, Japanese ivory and sword guards, and bronze. Many of the cases featured Dr. Isaac Wyman Drummond's original arrangement. A white jade composite in the center of the room was a gift to the Chinese Emperor Qianlong from his court officials (2, 1936, p. 132).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1912-1934.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. General Guide to the Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1911-1939.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years: 1910 (page 16); 1911 (page 37); 1912 (page 71); 1913 (page 68); 1914 (page 74); 1932 (page 65); 1934 (page 8, 10, 28)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years: 1911 (page 73, 93); 1913 (page 107, 109); 1914 (page 96, 117, 121); 1916 (page 103, 126); 1918 (page 96, 117); 1919 (page 99, 120); 1920 (page 99, 120); 1921 (page 99, 120); 1922 (page 99, 121); 1923 (page 99, 121); 1926 (page 39); 1927 (page 39); 1928 (page 109); 1929 (page 109); 1930 (page 109); 1931 (Table of Contents, 126); 1932 (Table of Contents, 126); 1933 (Table of Contents, 128); 1934 (Table of Contents, 131, 133); 1935 (Table of Contents, 131, 133); 1936 (Table of Contents, 131, 133); 1939 (page 19, 148, 151); 1943 (page 19, 155); 1945 (page 19, 155, 161); 1947 (page 19, 155, 161); 1949 (page 19, 155, 161); 1953 (Floor plans, 190, 196); 1956 (page 195); 1958 (page 197)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 4, Section 6.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Collections from the Philippine Islands (Hall)
In 1934, objects collected by Dr. Margaret Mead in New Guinea between 1931-1933 were installed in the Philippine Islands Hall as the Pacific Islands Hall, also referred to as the South Sea Island Hall, did not provide sufficient space (1, 1934, p. 10).
Drummond, Isaac Wyman 1855-1933
Original collector of the Drummond Collection, which, although not related to the collections of the South Sea Island Hall, was located in its tower (1, 1934, p. 8).
Herbert, Katharine Wyman Drummond
Donor, Drummond Collection, which, although not related to the collections of the South Sea Island Hall, was located in its tower (1, 1934, p. 8).
Lowie, Robert Harry 1883-1957
Curator for hall (1, 1912, p. 71).
Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples
associated dates: 1971-

Collections on exhibit in South Sea Island Hall later on exhibit in Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples
Neandross, Sigurd
Museum artist, worked on Tahitian groups (1, 1912, p. 71).
Operti, Albert 1852-1927
Museum artist, worked on Tahitian groups (1, 1912, p. 71).
Templeton-Crocker Pacific Expedition (1934-1935)
Expedition collected moai cast exhibited in hall (2, 1939, p. 148).

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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