Pacific Arts Association

Yesterday, we welcomed delegates from the Pacific Arts Association’s annual conference to the museum to view objects from our world cultures collections.

The Pacific Arts Association is an international organisation devoted to the study of all the arts of Oceania.  The Pacific Arts Association – Europe hold an annual conference, which this year was held at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia. As part of the conference, delegates were given the opportunity to visit Saffron Walden Museum to view our Oceania objects.


Delegates view objects collected by George Bennet

The group of 45 delegates were able to view objects on display in our Worlds of Man gallery, as well as objects that were brought out of storage. These objects included model canoes and barkcloth from Hawaii, bowls from Fiji, a drum from the Cook Islands and a necklace from Tonga.

The museum has an interesting and varied collection of Pacific objects, which were mostly donated in the nineteenth century. Some of these objects came from missionaries who had contacts with the early trustees of the museum. For example, around 25 Pacific objects were donated to the museum in 1835 by George Bennet, a missionary with the London Missionary Society. Bennet was sent to inspect missionary stations in the Pacific in the 1820s and collected many objects during his travels, including a bamboo nose flute and triton shell from Tahiti, which he donated to the museum. Other objects were donated by explorers, surveyors or naval officers, such as John Helder Wedge who donated objects from Victoria, Australia, and Lord Charles Hervey, who donated over 100 ethnographic items, including objects from Hawaii.

You can find out more about the museum’s world cultures collections by visiting the Worlds of Man gallery in the museum, clicking onto the world cultures collections page, or picking up a copy of our Worlds of Man catalogue on sale in the museum gift shop.