Publication Date: Sep 2006
RRP: $34.95
ISBN: 9780975747582
Format: Paperback
Size: 165mm x 245mm
Pages: 232
Category: Books

South Pacific Museums

Experiments in Culture

Chris Healy and Andrea Witcomb

Open Access

South Pacific Museums: Experiments in Culture is a collection of outstanding analyses of museums in the South Pacific, written by cultural, museum and architectural critics, and historians. A series of snapshots introduce the reader to key museums in the region and longer essays explore these museums in broad terms.

Over the last 50 years, museums have been regarded by many scholars and cultural critics as archaic institutions far from the cutting edge of cultural innovation. This judgement is being proved wrong across the globe, with innovative museums staking out new territory. Nowhere is this more striking than in the South Pacific where new and redeveloped institutions have included the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Museum of Australia, the Melbourne Museum, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Museum of Sydney, the Gab Titui Cultural Centre in the Torres Strait, the Auckland Museum, the Centre Culturel Tjibaou and the Vanuatu Cultural Centre.

South Pacific Museums make sense of these museums as part of the complex field of heritage, where national economies meet global tourism, cities brand themselves, and indigeneity articulates with colonialism. The effect is one of cultural experimentation. Part One, ‘New Museums’, introduces three different museums in distinctive national contexts – Te Papa, the Centre Culturel Tjibaou and the National Museum of Australia. Essays in this part grapple with the role of these museums in the nation at particular historical moments under specific political pressures. Part Two, ‘New Knowledges’, documents practices and exhibitions at the point of tension between indigenous and non-indigenous interests in the museum. Part three, ‘New Experiences’, explores the ways in which museums in the South Pacific are producing that ineffable cultural phenomenon – experience.


  • Tony Bennett – Open University
  • Leilani Bin-Juda – Torres Strait Regional Authority
  • Lissant Bolton – British Museum
  • Deidre Brown – University of Auckland
  • Pamie Fung – The University of Melbourne
  • Ross Gibson – University of Technology, Sydney
  • Kate Gregory – Fremantle Prison (a heritage listed convict establishment)
  • Chris Healy – The University of Melbourne
  • Diane Losche – University of New South Wales
  • John Macarthur – The University of Queensland
  • Ian McShane – Swinburne University of Technology
  • Kylie Message – Australian National University
  • Natalia Radywyl – The University of Melbourne
  • Elizabeth Rankin – University of Auckland
  • Moira G. Simpson – Flinders University
  • Huhana Smith – The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Naomi Stead – University of Technology, Sydney
  • Marianne Tissandier – Musée de Nouvelle-Calédonie
  • Mathew Trinca – National Museum of Australia
  • Ian Wedde – freelance writer and curator, Wellington
  • Kirsten Wehner – National Museum of Australia
  • Paul Williams – New York University
  • Sara Wills – The University of Melbourne
  • Andrea Witcomb – Deakin University
  • Linda Young – Deakin University

Chris Healy

Chris Healy teaches cultural studies at the University of Melbourne. His publications include Beasts of Suburbia (co-editor, Melbourne University Press, 1994), From the Ruins of Colonialism (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and Cultural Studies Review (co-editor, 2002–06).
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Andrea Witcomb

Andrea Witcomb is an associate professor in the Faculty of Arts at Deakin University. She is the editor of Open Museum Journal and the author of Re-imagining the Museum: Beyond the Mausoleum (Routledge, 2003).
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