Art of the Pacific

Art of the Pacific

Ahmanson Building, Level 1

LACMA in 2008 acquired one of the most significant collections of the art of the Pacific assembled in the twentieth century. Representing the region’s wide range of arts and focusing particularly on works from Polynesia and Melanesia, the collection includes a superb eighteenth-century Hawaiian drum collected by Captain James Cook in 1778, an Easter Islands dance paddle, and a hermaphrodite ancestor figure from Papua New Guinea. This extraordinary collection is on view in galleries designed by contemporary artist Franz West. Browse the collection by type of object, material or place.

Papua New Guinea, Biwat People
Memorial Figure
Papua New Guinea, New Ireland Province
c. 1900
Rapanui Dance Paddle
Easter Island
c. 1800
Hawaiian Islands
c. 1760
Ceremonial Board
Papua New Guinea, Eastern Highlands Province
c. 1955

Princess Ka'iulani Slept Here

Newly installed in the Art of the Pacific gallery, this unusually large five-layer kapa moe, or bed cover, belonged to Princess Ka’iulani Cleghorn (1875–1899), heir apparent to the Hawaiian throne at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893...

The Eyes of New Ireland Province

. . . The operculum is a convex rounded plate that serves as the trapdoor on the shell of a number of marine snails and some land ones too, protecting the snails from predators and from drying out. The operculum has a smooth side and a rough side. Set into a sculpted face of approximately human dimensions, as some long-ago artist discovered and many others would confirm, an operculum with the smooth side out makes an uncannily convincing eye: soft, three-dimensional, with an irislike ring of color around a glossy dark center...