The exhibition 'Dance of the Ancestors. Art from Sepik in Papua New Guinea’ opens today in the Gropius Bau. The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin-Dahlem has lent some of the valuable items on show, and many more indigenous artworks and cultural artefacts from all over Oceania can be seen in the museum itself.
By 2019, the entire Ethnologisches Museum, including its South Sea collection, will be moving from Dahlem to form the heart of the soon-to-be-completed Humboldt-Forum. There the galleries devoted to the South Pacific/Oceania will centre on the ethnographic collections from the island of New Ireland and the Sepik region of New Guinea. The displays will explore such themes as navigation and communication, climate change and its consequences, mythology, and the discrepancy between European clichés and the reality of life in the South Seas.
But the permanent South Sea exhibition currently in Dahlem is already a remarkable attraction: with boats and spectacular houses typical of Oceania, it conjures up the atmosphere of Pacific island life, while numerous artefacts display the magnificent colour and variety of indigenous artistic expression.