PacificAnthropology.org is the home of the Field Museum's Regenstein Pacific team.

What is co-curation?

Hannah Thoms, an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, is pursuing research into a collection of Papuan material sent from the Field (then the Chicago Museum of Natural History) to the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology in 1945. Thoms visited the Museum archives to read correspondence between the two institutions. The Field was fortunately able to provide her, and UMMAA, with further provenience information on the objects exchanged. Thoms also photographed objects at the Field that were similar to the material at UMMAA, for comparison purposes.

Hannah Thoms photographs a Papua New Guinean bag in collections storage

Kosuke Dai of Keio University, Japan, has made a return visit to finish his detailed survey of New Ireland material collected by AB Lewis (via Isokichi Komine.) Dai first visited last year, but finding more material than expected both in collections and Museum archives, has returned to photograph and measure more objects. Keio University holds a number of Komine-collected objects from New Ireland, and with this research Dai hopes to gain better provenience information for both collections, as well as a deeper insight into Komine’s collecting habits and journeys.

(L-R) Chris Philipp and Kosuke Dai study a chalk figure from New Ireland

Researchers Frederick Temo and Maramena Tuna visited the Maori collections as part of their research with Dr. Jennifer Cattermole (University of Otago.) They took detailed measurements and photos of a number of Maori musical instruments, or taonga pūoro, including carved wooden flutes and raupo fiber poi balls. Five flutes were temporarily removed from exhibit in the Regenstein Halls of the Pacific to enable closer examination.


Dr. Cattermole says, “I am one of the co-primary investigators (the other being Maui Solomon, chair of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust) on a research project titled ‘The origins and development of pre-European contact musical instruments in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Rēkohu (Chatham Islands).’ This study, which is being funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand (UOO-1622), aims to discover how the first southern Polynesian colonists of New Zealand and the Chathams – and their descendants – adapted tropical musical instruments and traditions to the new resources of a large, cool-seasonal continental island group. A key aspect of this mahi (work) involves documenting the taonga pūoro (traditional musical instruments) held in museum collections around the world. We aim to learn a lot about the instruments’ age and place of manufacture by examining their carving styles, manufacture techniques and materials, and (where available) provenance information.”


Four Maori flutes, pictured in their exhibit case in the Regenstein Halls of the Pacific.

Header photo © FMNH. By James Balodimas