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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


Political power, sacred value, social transformation and collecting since the 18th century



This three-year project, running from May 2011 to April 2014, is a collaboration between the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology (MAA). It is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The Project aims to unlock the potential of the outstanding collections of Fijian art, material culture and associated photographs and archives held in museums in the United Kingdom and abroad. The bulk of these Fijian collections have never been displayed, nor have they ever been thoroughly researched or documented.  In collaboration with the Project’s partners, including the Fiji Museum, the Project has provided the opportunity to research systematically the Fijian collections at MAA, comparatively study material at numerous institutions, and make them widely accessible through display, publication and various outreach activities.

The team is formed of Professor Steven Hooper (Principal investigator, Sainsbury Research Unit, UEA), Dr Anita Herle (Co-investigator, Senior Curator for Anthropology, MAA), Dr Karen Jacobs (Co-investigator, Lecturer in the Arts of Oceania; Sainsbury Research Unit, UEA), Dr Andrew Mills (Post-doctoral Research Associate, Sainsbury Research Unit, UEA), Dr Lucie Carreau (Post-doctoral Research Associate, Sainsbury Research Unit, UEA), and doctoral student Katrina Igglesden (Project Administrator, Sainsbury Research Unit, UEA).

The Projects partners are the British Museum (London), the Fiji Museum (Suva), the Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery (Maidstone), Musée du Quai Branly (Paris), National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh), Peabody Essex Museum (Salem), Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC), and World Museum Liverpool (Liverpool). The Auckland War Memorial Museum (Auckland), Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (Bristol), Museum fur Volkerkunde zu Leipzig (Leipzig), Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver) and the Macleay Museum (Sydney) are Project Associates.


Drawing on collaborative research the Project will generate numerous workshops, seminars, publications and displays, including two major exhibitions:

  • Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji (7 June 2013 – April 2014). Co-curated by Dr Anita Herle and Dr Lucie Carreau.
  • The most comprehensive Fijian exhibition “Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific“, curated by Steve Hooper and drawing on the collections of MAA and numerous other project partners, opened at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia in Norwich on 15 October 2016.

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