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Indepth Arts News:

"Oceanic Exhibit Opens"
2000-08-12 until 2000-09-30
San Antonio Museum of Art
San Antonio, TX, USA United States of America

These days, the elevator that takes you to the fourth floor of the Museum's west wing also transports you half way around the world. A new gallery devoted to Oceanic art officially opened on the Museum's top floor on August 12, and it is brimming with treasures from the cultures of the Pacific Islands. More than 80 objects dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are on display from areas of Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands.

The objects in the new gallery are a part of the Museum's permanent collection, and that is big news for several reasons. The exhibition of the Oceanic works means the Museum is one step closer to its goal of building a comprehensive collection of the art of the world's civilizations. It also means the Museum has earned a new distinction: It is one of the primary places in the region to view Oceanic art, thanks to the size and caliber of this collection.

When you visit, expect to be fascinated-and educated-by what you read as well as by what you see. While installing the gallery, Advisory Curator Joseph M. Bravo was determined to present the objects in their original context and to maintain a genuine regard for the people who created them. In so doing, he hopes to have made it easier for visitors to do what Westerners have struggled to do for centuries: understand the purpose and meaning of Oceanic art.

As a result, a visit to the gallery will offer more than just the opportunity to view bark paintings, intricately carved weapons, decorative ceremonial masks and more. A visit will also inform you of such things as why the wooden orator's pulpit (or Teket) is regarded as a prestigious treasure to the people of New Guinea, and why the male ancestor figure (or Moai Kava-Kava) from Easter Island is carved with such incredible detail.

The Oceanic collection is primarily the gift of long-time Museum of Art Trustee Gilbert M. Denman, Jr., who began forming the collection while serving with the U.S. Navy in World War II. The gallery is also made possible by generous grants from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation and Mr. Denman.


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