Pacific Collections Move Team

The Anthropology Department continues to move objects of the Pacific Collections from old storage locations into our new Collections Resource Center (CRC).

The Pacific Anthropology area of this state-of-the-art facility has more than 10,000 sq. ft. of space, and was specially designed to house these collections.   

To date, approximately 45,000 artifacts have moved into their new home.  This number includes the Museum's entire collections from Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Easter Island, Marquesas Islands, Admiralty Islands, New Caledonia, and Micronesia, as well as the majority of our objects from Vanuatu, and large portions of our collections from the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.  We estimate that it will take another year to fully transfer the remaining Pacific Islands objects into the CRC.
 

One focus of the move has been the difficult task of carefully transporting spears and arrows, as well as textiles rolled around large acid-free storage tubes.  All of the rolled woven mats in the Polynesian collections have already been shifted into the CRC; most of our tapa (bark collections), howeveris still in the old storage locations.

By April 2007 we had already moved our entire Maori collection into the CRC, and thus it was wonderfully easy to let everyone from Tokomaru Bay who arrived then to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Ruatepupuke II also visit with these priceless heritage "treasures" (taonga) from Aotearoa (New Zealand).

 

Andrew Leith and Niko Herzog on the move.

Niko and Andrew move  Pacific objects into the CRC
 


Niko Herzog


I have been with The Field Museum for over four years primarily with the CRC move team.  I have a master's degree in museum science from Texas Tech University.  While with the Anthropology Department I have participated in the successful move of Pacific material with the help of two colleagues to make room for the new DNA lab.  I also helped move over ten thousand spears from different island nations and stored them in temporary locations in the CRC. I have bagged over 70% of the Pacific material that is in storage room 29 in preparation for freezing in the near future and conducted detailed inventories of several collections. I am currently learning the database as well as how to make mounts for the artifacts prior to the move into the CRC.

 

My goals in the department are to further my knowledge of the anthropology collection, specifically becoming more aware of the differences in the different island nations and their cultures, the cultural practices, and differences in the regions (i.e. Micronesia vs. Melanesia vs. Polynesia) through the material that I have been moving for over a year.


Andrew Leith
 

The general endeavor of my peers and I has chiefly involved preparing the over 1.5 million artifacts in the anthropology collection and installing them in the new CRC. Over the past years we have worked together with collections spanning from massive feasting bowls from the Admiralty Islands to ancient human remains from Kish. We have tackled issues; logistical, technical, and intellectual. In one case, we enlisted the muscle of the entire department, and with nearly 30 people in tow, moved totem poles, canoes, and a teepee from old storage locations on one side of the museum, outside and around the museum to a freight elevator at the far side. There, due to the extreme length of the pieces we actually had to manually lower these artifacts down from one floor to the other on a diagonal. As you can see, working firsthand with the diverse breath and range of artifacts the Field Museum boasts proves daily to be a challenge but also a rare privilege.


The material culture that I handle illuminates the life ways of the many peoples, places and times I studied while earning my B.S. in Anthropology at Loyola University Chicago in 2005. However, it is the accomplished staff I work with that truly make this a unique opportunity. I am currently involved with material from our Pacific collections by constructing custom archival mounts which will support and protect them for the next several decades. I hope to go on after this to pursue historic preservation and historic era archaeology in graduate school.