Replica moai

The Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples

I have recently returned from a brief visit to New York City, where I got to play a little catch-up with the growing tiki scene. I have lots of pictures and impressions to share, and I’ll spread it out across a few posts.

Marquesan war clubs
Marquesan war clubs

I was in town to spend time with my husband’s family, including our tiki-crazed nephews. We spent a full day at the American Museum of Natural History, but I felt like we barely made a dent in all there was to see—I would gladly spend a week solid there, poring over all the exhibits. I am completely nutsy for dioramas, and they must have the world’s best collection of them. (My diorama pictures are available to everyone on Facebook.) The stunning Northwest Native American exhibit is alone worth the price of admission, and if it had been Polynesian carvings, I might have wet myself.

Replica moai
Replica moai

But there is a Polynesian exhibit! The Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples. The presentation—lime green walls and lit with harsh fluorescents—feels a bit lackluster compared to the rest of the museum, but the pieces within it are great. It houses one of the museum’s most famous residents, a replica moai that made a memorable appearance in the film Night at the Museum. Thanks largely to the film, the moai brings a steady stream of people into the hall.

The bulk of the exhibit space is representing cultures closer to Asia, while items of a stronger midcentury tiki interest are tucked into the back. There are some wee dioramas of village scenes, and case after case of carved and constructed pieces, with heavy representation by Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Marquesas and New Zealand.

My time in the hall was painfully brief. I wish I’d had more time to scrutinize each item, and read all of the information plaques. I was able to grab a few photographs, though, and you can see them all on the page for the American Museum of Natural History in Critiki.

3 thoughts on “The Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples

  1. Thanks for sharing, I’ve seen photos of the Marquesan war clubs in books but it’s, great to know where I can see them in person. Love your blog, keep up the great work!


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