Covering a third of the earth, the Pacific Ocean is home to diverse people that speak a quarter of the world’s languages.

This gallery celebrates and showcases these vibrant Pacific cultures through the skill, creativity and spiritual complexity shown in their ceremonial objects, artworks, and everyday items.

See the ghostly masks of the Asaro Mudmen, ceremonial poles from New Ireland, and Bird of Paradise headwear from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, alongside intricately carved door panels from New Zealand, towering slit drums from Vanuatu and delicate jewellery from Fiji. Each of these objects is a celebration of living cultures that continue to thrive in contemporary Pacific societies, including here in Sydney.

The Australian Museum works closely with communities around the Pacific and with Pacific migrant communities in Australia to nurture this collection and shape its exhibitions and programs.

Exhibition highlights

Couple in Pacific

Carved ceremonial poles

The Australian Museum’s Pacific Spirit exhibition showcases an astounding collection of items from across the Pacific region. Holding one of the largest cultural collections of this kind in the world, with over 60,000 items, the Australian Museum gives its taste with 23 awe-inspiring Malagan masks; intricately carved ceremonial poles from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea; breathtaking kava bowls and drums from Samoa, and astonishing slit drums from Vanuatu.

Asaro - Komunive village

Asaro collection

Papua New Guinea has over many years enthralled and charmed people. Inhabitants of Komunive village, Asaro River area near Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, are famous for their fearsome Asaro mud masks in the form of clay head-dresses and dramatic ritualised dance celebrations. Discover the masks on display in the Pacific Spirit exhibition.

Visiting information

Dine & Discover vouchers

Redeem your Dine & Discover vouchers towards Australian Museum membership, event tickets and at the Billabong cafe and No.1 William restaurant.

Dine & Discover vouchers are available to redeem in person only.

The Australian Museum is COVID Safe

The current NSW Public Health Orders require that anyone visiting or working at the AM must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or medical exemption (aged 16+) and wear a fitted facemask (aged 12+) to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The AM’s existing COVID Safe measures including QR code check in, social distancing, increased cleaning and hygiene practices remain in effect.

View our full COVID-19 safety information here.

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