Nicholas Thomas, who has been Director of MAA since 2006, is an anthropologist and historian. He visited the Pacific Islands first in 1984 to research his PhD thesis on the Marquesas Islands, later worked in Fiji and New Zealand, as well as in many archives and museum collections in Europe, north America, and the Pacific itself.
His books include Entangled Objects (1991), Oceanic Art (1995), Discoveries: the voyages of Captain Cook (2003), and Islanders: the Pacific in the Age of Empire (2010), which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize.
He has collaborated with artists including painter John Pule and photographer Mark Adams on projects exploring cross-cultural art histories in the Pacific and curated exhibitions for many museums and art galleries in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom . He is currently a member of the Conseil d’orientation scientifique of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris and the International Advisory Board of the Humboldt-Forum in Berlin.
2013 (ed.), with Lissant Bolton, Elizabeth Bonshek, Julie Adams and Ben Burt) Melanesia: Art and Encounter. London: British Museum Press
2012 (with Peter Brunt, Sean Mallon, Lissant Bolton, Deidre Brown, Damian Skinner and Susanne Kuechler) Art in Oceania: a History. London: Thames and Hudson.
2011 (ed.), with Mark Elliott) Gifts and Discoveries: the Museum of Archeaology and Anthropology, Cambridge. London: Scala
2010 (ed.), Hauaga: the Art of John Pule. Dunedin: Otago University Press
2010 Islanders: Experiences of Empire in the Pacific. London & New Haven: Yale University Press
2010 (with Mark Adams, Peter Brunt and Sean Mallon) Tatau: Samoan Tattooing / New Zealand art / Global Culture. Wellington: Te Papa Press.
2009 (with Mark Adams, James Schuster and Lyonel Grant) Rauru: Tene Waitere, Maori Carving, Colonial History. Dunedin: University of Otago Press.
2005 (ed.) with Anna Cole and Bronwen Douglas) Tattoo: Bodies, Art and Exchange in the Pacific and the West. London: Reaktion / Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
2005 (with John Pule) Hiapo: Past and Present in Niuean Barkcloth. Dunedin: University of Otago Press.
2003 Discoveries: the Voyages of Captain James Cook. 505 pp. London: Penguin Press / New York: Walker [in north America: Cook: the extraordinary voyages of Captain James Cook]. Polish translation, Odkrycia: podroze Kapitana Kooka, Poznan: Rebis, 2007.
1999 Possessions: Indigenous Art / Colonial Culture. 304 pp. London: Thames and Hudson.
1995 Oceanic art. 212 pp. London: Thames and Hudson (World of Art series) [French translation, L’art de l’Océanie, published 1996].
1994 Colonialism’s culture: anthropology, travel, and government. 238 pp. Cambridge: Polity Press; Melbourne: Melbourne University Press; Princeton: Princeton University Press.
1991 Entangled objects: exchange, material culture and colonialism in the Pacific. 259 pp. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.