Masks of Memories: Art and Ceremony in Nineteenth Century Oceania

Museum of Art Museum of Art

Exhibition: Masks of Memories: Art and Ceremony in Nineteenth Century Oceania

Dates:

Location:

Markell Gallery
This exhibition presents extraordinary masks from the island New Ireland, part of Papua New Guinea, that residents performed in at funeral ceremonies to explore their cultural significance and collecting history connected to Maine.

Selected Objects

a full-head mask, made of wood and natural fibers in the 19th century

Mask (tatanua), artist unidentified, ca. 1800-1900, polychrome, wood, and natural fiber. Gift of Harold M. Sewall, 1898.73.

a full-head mask, made of wood and natural fibers in the 19th century
Mask (tatanua), artist unidentified, ca. 1800-1900, wood, pigment, fiber, and shell. Gift of Harold M. Sewall, 1898.73.
A stylized carving of a bird , with long beak

Artist unrecorded. Bird carving, nineteenth century, polychromed wood. New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. Gift of Harold M. Sewall, 1898.75 

a landscape/seascape with palm trees and small figures in the water

Océanie: Îlots Uvea (Wallis): Pêche aux Palmes, 1845, etching, by Charles Meryon. Museum Purchase, Susan Dwight Bliss Fund, 1974.36

About

At funeral ceremonies in the island New Ireland, part of Papua New Guinea, people performed wearing extraordinary masks. This exhibition explores the intersection of memory and ephemerality in such masks and cultural practices from New Ireland. It features nineteenth-century masks associated with these practices that Harold Sewall, U.S. Consul General to Samoa from Bath, Maine, donated to the Museum. The exhibition explores two lines of inquiry: the cultural significance and ephemeral qualities of masks associated with funerary ceremonies in New Irelandand the circulation of such objects beyond Oceania through collecting practices among Europeans and Americans.