August 27, 2008

Expert on Oceania to present illustrated lecture

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Department of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale brings an Oceania expert to the University Museum for an illustrated lecture on Sept. 4.

Michael Gunn, associate curator for Oceania at the St. Louis Art Museum, presents his lecture beginning at 4 p.m. An informal reception follows. Oceania generally refers to islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Gunn’s research includes ritual art in New Ireland, a Pacific island that is part of Melanesia. Gunn showed hundreds of photographs of 19th century New Ireland art to modern New Ireland residents. This lecture details his results.

Gunn is the co-author of several books on Oceania, including “New Ireland: Art of the South Pacific” and “From the South Seas.” Before coming to St. Louis, Gunn served as associate curator of Oceanic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and was a curator at the Northern Territory Museum in Darwin, Australia. He earned a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, with traditional ritual art in New Ireland as his specialization. His research includes extensive fieldwork in New Ireland and other locations in the South Seas.

The St. Louis Oceania collection includes some 530 pieces donated by Morton May, a St Louis department store magnate. May also donated a considerable collection of Oceanic art to the SIUC University Museum. Highlights of the collection were on display at University Museum in 2007.

There is no charge for this event or for admission to the museum, though donations are, of course, welcome. Hours for the fall semester are: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; closed for University breaks and holidays. Call 618/453-5388 for more information.