Melanesian Art from the Valerie Franklin Collection

Featuring objects from the 19th century to the middle of the 20th that are on loan to the Museum from one of the most prestigious private collections in the United States, this exhibition serves as an introduction to the art and culture of one of the Pacific’s most dynamic regions.

Covering one-third of the earth’s surface and touching the shores of five continents, the Pacific Ocean contains thousands of inhabited islands that are commonly divided into several regions based on language, cultural distinctions, and historical connections. As a cultural area, the Pacific is commonly divided into three sub-regions: Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

This ongoing exhibition explores the artistic achievements of Melanesia, where art connects people with land, nature spirits, ancestors and each other to create strong and vibrant communities. In this region, each time art is created and displayed social relations and cultural understandings are refined and strengthened. Pacific Horizons: Melanesian Art from the Valerie Franklin Collection presents a startling variety of visual forms and intellectual models and allows visitors to experience some of the finest art created in Melanesia—an art that remains one of the least understood in the world.


Papuan Gulf Skull Rack, 20th century, The Valerie Franklin Collection.