The Oceanic collection forms one of the smaller categories in the Museum’s non-Western holdings, numbering just forty-eight works. This collection consists of objects mostly from the islands of Melanesia, with by far the largest number of items coming from New Guinea. The region of the Sepik River is represented by masks, shields and ceremonial objects. Works, mostly of wood or other organic materials, by the Asmat, Murik, Abelam, Kambot, and Itamul cultural groups as well as other peoples, are included. Several items come from nearby New Britain and the Solomon Islands. A few decorated wooden shields and clubs made by aboriginal peoples of Australia also form part of this collection.
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"I still remember the feeling of awe and disbelief when I was alone and walked in the room with those casts." --Ruth Tofle, chair of architecture, winner of the 2013 distinguished faculty award from the MU Alumni Association