Papua New Guinea Tikis at Stanford University

Tiki "Thinker" at Stanford University
Tiki “Thinker” at Stanford University

While making plans to visit the Rodin sculpture garden at Stanford University a couple weeks back, I made a startling discovery… the Cantor Arts Center, which manages the Rodin sculptures, also has a second, separate sculpture garden on the other side of campus — and this one is all art from Papua New Guinea.

In 1994, several artists from Papua New Guinea were brought to Stanford to create carvings on-site. The sculptures are all clustered in a wooded area at the corner of Santa Teresa and Lomita. At the center are a cluster of poles carved from trees that are 20-30 feet tall, surrounded by still-untouched trees. There are two large slit drums on the ground, ready to be thumped. To one side, there are some painted poles, and some great tikis. To the south is a large, striking carving with bird wings outstretched, and to the north are a variety of lovely stone carvings.

The Cantor Arts Center museum also has a small collection of Oceanic art, but the real treasure is this somewhat-hidden sculpture garden. Just a short ways down the road from Stanford, right on El Camino Real, is the Palo Alto Trader Vic’s; while this Trader Vic’s pales in comparison to other TVs, it does house an impressive private collection of Papua New Guinea tikis and art, making a visit to both spots in one trip work well.

I’ve been a couple times now, and naturally, I’ve taken a bunch of pictures. You can see them at Humuhumu’s Life in Photos, or in a thread at Tiki Central.

6 thoughts on “Papua New Guinea Tikis at Stanford University

  1. Not sure if this has already been posted, but if you are into Oceanic art the DeYoung in Golden Gate Park has a fairly extensive exhibit. Although I did hear there was some questions about how they obtained the artifacts. If the exhibit is still in swing, there are some interesting pieces from Papua New Guinea.


  2. Just stumbled on your website. Great photo…recently visited this display and it is amazing. The totems are fabulous. Kind of wish the area was better cared for although it is sort of woven into the campus so maybe that is okay? hmmm. thanks for the info!


  3. Yes, I’ve heard wonderful things about the DeYoung — there’s a long checklist of things I’d like to see at Golden Gate Park, so I’m hoping to spend some time there in the near future.


  4. This is a fascinating site…I have a deep interest in totems from ALL cultures. Currently in Victoria, B.C. but I’m very glad I travelled here. Please feel free to visit and explore Ancient’s History, and to share anything of value you may find.
    your humble servant,
    Ancient Clown


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