The Oceania Exhibition marked 250 years since British explorer Captain James Cook first journeyed to the region and coincided with the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy. Oceania was the first ever major survey of Oceanic art held in the UK. Oceania brought together around 200 exceptional works from public collections worldwide, and spanned over 500 years. From shell, greenstone and ceramic ornaments, to huge canoes and stunning god images, it explored important themes of voyaging, place making and encounter. There were many exhibits from Papua New Guinea including carvings, shields, jewellry and a huge feather headdress from which is 100 years old and has rarely been shown in public due to its delicate nature.
"Papua New Guinea is the most culturally diverse country in the world, with over 1,000 tribes and more than 850 languages. As you view the works in this exhibition, bear in mind that explorers were only able to first access the vast interior of Papua New Guinea as recently as the 1930s. The country is rich in its cultural heritage; its artworks are designed to mark status and beauty, to depict long-gone ancestors or to ward off evil spirits. ‘Oceania’ provides an insight into the rich tapestry of artworks that are, due to Papua New Guinea’s diversity, different from region to region and from tribe to tribe. ‘Oceania’ presents a unique opportunity to enjoy the huge variety of traditional artworks within Papua New Guinea and to experience its differences and similarities with other Pacific countries, and we hope that you will learn something new and come to appreciate these artworks from other cultures."
Her Excellency Ms Winnie A Kiap
High Commissioner for Papua New Guinea