Foreign Ethnology Research
The earliest collections of the South Australian Museum included Pacific material, later supplemented by significant collections from Africa (including ancient Egypt), South-east Asia, and the Americas.
Much of this material was poorly documented and a major thrust of current research is to find out more about these collections and the collectors. This involves archival research, fieldwork using photographs of objects – and even digitised film on a laptop – to retrieve ethnographic information, and co-operative research with other museums.
Recent and current research includes:
- the Sultan of Johore 1887 collection from South-east Asia;
- the Theodore Bevan 1887 collection from the Papuan Gulf;
- the Reverend William Gray 1895 collection from the New Hebrides (Vanuatu);
- the Irene Badcock 1909 collection from the Congo;
- the Reverend E.G. Neil 1909 collection from Samoa;
- the William Hoggarth 1912-13 collection from Chiu Chiu in Chile;
- the 1914-16 Pacific photographs of Ernest Sterne Usher;
- the Harry Balfour Ogilvy 1917 collection from the Bismarck Archipelago;
- the Edgar Waite 1918 collections from New Ireland and New Guinea;
- the Kenneth Thomas 1930s collection from northern New Guinea;
- the Reverend Harold Freund 1940s collection from the New Guinea highlands;
- the 1950s Norman and Shiela Draper collection from the Baliem Valley of West Papua;
- the 1960s Reverend Ralph Lawton collection from the Trobriand Islands;
- the 1968-9 Graeme Pretty and Tony Crawford collection from the Southern Highlands of New Guinea.
Other research includes an ARC-Linkage project: an analysis of around 10,000 objects in museums worldwide, deriving from the upper Sepik and central New Guinea regions and a survey and analysis of slit-gongs of Papua New Guinea.
Recently completed projects include involvement in Shields of Melanesia, a published survey of warshields of Melanesia and Living Spirits with Fixed Abodes, a catalogue of the Masterpieces Exhibition of the Papua New Guinea National Museum.