Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji

Human-shaped figures and pendants of whale ivory strung on fine plaited coir cords. Probably presented to Lady Gordon, 1875 - 80, Fiji

7 June 2013 – 19 April 2014,
Li Ka Shing Gallery

This is the first ever exhibition dedicated to Fijian Art outside Fiji. It draws on MAA’s exceptional collection of Fijian artefacts, photographs and archives, a collection closely linked to the early colonial history of Fiji and the foundation of the Museum.

Baron Anatole von Hügel, MAA’s first curator, travelled within Fiji between 1874 and 1877, a period coinciding with Fiji’s entry into the British Empire. Along with Sir Arthur Gordon (First Governor of Fiji) and Alfred Percival Maudslay (Sir Arthur’s private secretary), von Hügel assembled an impressive Fijian collection, including outstanding objects presented by Fijian and Tongan chiefs. This material formed the founding ethnographic collection of the Museum when it opened in 1884. The opening of this exhibition in June 2013 marks the centenary of the Museum moving to its current building on Downing Street.

Chiefs & Governors introduces important aspects of Fijian art and culture and highlights key moments of Fijian pre-colonial and colonial history. Combining historical and contemporary objects and installations, Chiefs and Governors emphasises the dynamism and creativity of Fiji.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue: Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji by Anita Herle & Lucie Carreau.

★★★★☆, the Independent. Read the review here.

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