This research focuses on the ways in which exhibitions and exhibiting processes allow the development of networks in the Pacific. Examining exhibitions as both connectors and travelling cultural commodities, this study encompasses seven exhibition projects taking place in four cultural institutions in Oceania over a ten-year period (2006-2016). It aims to highlight the ways in which exhibitions influence the construction of cultural and institutional networks in the Pacific, and how, in return, such networks impact upon the exhibitions themselves.
This project approaches exhibitions from two different angles. On the one hand, they are considered as representation stages (products), where cultures are juxtaposed and therefore connected. The gallery space itself becomes a map that emphasises specific connections and creates new ones. On the other hand, exhibitions are analysed as social practices (processes) that foster relationships between institutions and museum professionals. As such, they stimulate interactions and play a major role in the construction of new networks in the Pacific.
A Comparative Study
This research seeks to compare a set of seven exhibition projects and investigates the curatorial experiences that support their development. The research sample encompasses both permanent and temporary exhibitions and covers past, present and future projects. These projects were all created in the Pacific region (including the Pacific Rim) at the beginning of the 21st century and showcase a discourse on trans-Pacific relationships. These exhibitions took or take place in four cultural institutions (three museums and one cultural centre):
- The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii), where the newly renovated pan-Pacific gallery, the Pacific Hall, opened in September 2013.
- Auckland War Memorial Museum (Auckland, New Zealand), which is currently renovating its Pacific Galleries. In 2007, the museum also developed two touring exhibitions – Vaka Moana and Le Folauga – which both travelled to Taiwan in 2008.
- Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (Kaohsiung, Taiwan), which hosted three exhibitions as part of the Contemporary Austronesian Art Project (2007-2009): (a) Across Oceans and Time, (b) Le Folauga: the Past Coming Forth, (c) The Great Journey: in the Pursuit of the Ancestral Realm. The first exhibit is the result of a collaboration with the Tjibaou Cultural Centre. The second started its journey at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
- The Tjibaou Cultural Centre (Nouméa, New Caledonia), which hosted Beyond the Boundary in 2012, an exhibition developed by the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts.