A companion volume to one of the richest collections of Melanesian art: that of the British Museum. This title is the product of sustained dialogue with people from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, West Papua, and New Caledonia, who are authors or co-authors on many of its 57 chapters.
The British Museum's collection is pre-eminent among early collections from Melanesia, and the 20,000 items it comprises are core to understanding the cultures of the western Pacific. The extraordinary art styles represented, from groups such as New Guinea, New Ireland and the Solomon Islands and relating to ancestors, family and clan, houses, feasting and festivals, for instance, are of interest not only in themselves but also for the way they have influenced European artists since the nineteenth century.
This book surveys and responds to the collection from the point of view not only of the anthropologist but also of the people responsible for its creation, with contributions from a wide range of international scholars, anthropologists, indigenous peoples and artists, and illustrated with up to 300 colour images of objects and contextual photographs. This is the first time this important collection has been documented - the book is not only a visual feast but also a key reference work.
Lissant Bolton is Keeper of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum.
Nicholas Thomas is Professor of Historical Anthropology and Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge.
Elizabeth Bonshek is Researcher at the Donald Home Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Canberra and an Honorary Associate of Museum Victoria.
Julie Adams is Research Associate at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.
Ben Burt is a Curator of Oceania at the British Museum.