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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology




Micro Gallery

A small display remembering Cambridge zoologist Paul Montague and his research in New Caledonia.



Archival giclee print by Rebecca Jewell, of a BE12 plane titled 'The Bird Man of Salonika'. The print has been collaged over with bird feathers, upon which are printed musical instruments, birds, birds' eggs, Kanak artefacts and images of Paul Denys Montague. He collected and/or made the objects represented on the feathers. 2014. MAA 2015.1.


Paul Montague was a Cambridge zoologist who travelled to New Caledonia in 1913 to carry out research. While there he became fascinated by the local Kanak culture and made a collection of about 200 objects; he returned to Cambridge in 1914 and worked intensively at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology documenting his collection. He then went to fight in the Salonika campaign in the First World War, unfortunately he never returned – he was shot down and killed in 1917.

Almost a century on, the Pacific Presences project at the museum is reuniting Montague’s notes and drawings with the objects themselves and working with a Kanak archaeologist to understand the significance of the collection today.

Objects on display include a magnificent mask made from feathers and human hair worn during mourning ceremonies, a lute Montague made himself whilst on active service constructed from sections of broken aeroplane, and a specially commissioned piece of art created in response to Montague’s life and collections.

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.