Oceania and Asia-Pacific

Hawaiian Feather Cape

Feather cape ('ahu'ula), Hawaiian Islands, 1819 or earlier. Photo by Hillel Burger. PM 11-65-70/84100.

Collections from Oceania, comprising the islands of the North and South Pacific, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Australia, are extensive and include cultural materials collected by Boston merchants, traders, explorers, and researchers on Pacific voyages dating back to the late 18th century. Collections include items from various New England learned societies, the China Maritime Trade, the Massachusetts Whaling Industry, Boston and New England missionaries, the U.S. Exploring Expedition (1838-1842), the U.S. Fish Commission Expeditions, Harvard-Australia Expeditions of the 1930s, the Harvard Solomon Islands projects, and collections acquired from other museums in the area.

The Peabody Museum also holds collections from the neighboring Asia-Pacific region, notably from Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

Collection Highlights

  • Extensive materials from the Dani, Asmat, and Sepik River area and Papuan Gulf of New Guinea.
  • Australian Aboriginal spears, boomerangs, dilly bags, shields, and bark paintings.
  • Carved clubs from Fiji and the Marquesas.
  • Carved spoons and bowls, woven blankets, and baskets from the Philippines.
  • Fossil hominin casts.
  • Pottery from Fiji.
  • Hawaiian feather capes and helmets.
  • Tapa cloths and beaters from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Hawaiʻi.
  • Ikat textiles from Indonesia.
  • Javanese shadow puppets.
  • Lithic material from Tasmania and Australia.
  • Malagan carvings from New Ireland.
  • Māori carved door panels, bowls, and human figures.
  • Micronesian  woven clothing, baskets, shell jewelry, and woven mats.
  • Spears, weaponry, and armor from Kiribati.
  • Shields, baskets, and sun hats from Borneo.
  • Solomon Island spears and wooden bowls.
  • Stick charts of the Marshall Islands.
  • Tapa figures and carved wood statues from Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
  • Canoe models from across the region.
  • Woven mats and clothing from across the region.


Access Collections

See the Research Visits for more information on accessing collections.