Curator Imelda Miller in the pacific cultures collection

Pacific cultures

Explore the Pacific cultures collections held by Queensland Museum. This collection is interwoven with historical, cultural, social and political narratives from First Nations peoples from across the Pacific region.


The Pacific Collection at the Queensland Museum holds approximately 25,400 objects, as well as 4,200 historical photographs from 22 Pacific Island nations. Spread across the geographic regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, the Pacific Collections has a strong focus on the region of Melanesia, Queensland’s nearest neighbours. This collection contains a wide range of cultural material that reflects on Queensland’s relationships in the Pacific region and with Pacific Islanders - socially, politically and economically. The collection is reflective of the Pacific region in the late 19th century and early 20th century when colonial exploration and exploitation for resources in the Pacific were in demand.

Today Queensland Museum is working to connect Pacific Islander communities with the collections. With newer acquisitions into the collection, the focus is shifting to concentrate on Pacific Islander communities’ perspectives, issues and ongoing connection to Queensland’s cultural landscape, identity, history and living culture.



Collection highlights

Twenty-two Pacific Island nations are represented in the collection. Strong themes from cultural identity, governance, independence, regionality, artisanship, dance, scientific and architecture can be explored in the collections.

Two major collections featured include the Papua New Guinea collection that features a large collection associated with the government administrator Sir William Macgregor; and a collection of Melanesia objects now known as the Australian South Sea Islander Kastom Collection that is a unique example of physical representation of the ‘blackbirding’ and labour trade era in Australia’s history. 

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Research overview

More than just neighbours, Pacific Islander Nations and Queensland have strong connections through history, politics, academia, sport, religion, art and culture. The Pacific Island Cultural collections continue to be a valuable resource for Pacific Islander communities here in Australia as well in the home islands. International, national and local researchers, artists, archivists, curators from the Pacific or working with Pacific Islanders continue to access the collections to help connect objects with communities of origin. This important work continues to inform new knowledge and research, create public exhibitions, developing new artworks, research for publication in journal papers, blogs or community resources.

Queensland Museum priorities working with Pacific Islanders communities for research and interpretation of the collection. This work helps to inform the way the objects are cared for and accessed by and for future generations.


Archaeology, collections and Australian South Sea Islander lived identities
This project integrates the perspectives of historical archaeology, museology, cultural landscapes, and heritage studies with the lived experiences of the Australian South Sea Islander community.

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Excavating Macgregor - Re-connecting a colonial museum collection
Awakening interest in a highly significant collection of late 19th century objects from Papua New Guinea. A collaborative research initiative funded by the Australian Research Council with University of Sydney, Australian Museum and Queensland Museum.

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Kambek: Reconnecting Collections - Over a hundred years after they were collected from villagers across the colony of British New guinea, thirty-six objects are reconnected with descendants of those who had made, used and traded or gifted them to Sir William MacGregor.

Find out more

Did you know you don't have to come to the museum to see our collection?

Over 5,000 items of our Cultures & Histories collection are now accessible online for free. All you need is your device and a little bit of inspiration to explore Queensland’s cultural and natural heritage.

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