For science, salvage, and state: Papua New Guinea’s earliest colonial museums

Anna Edmundson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    In recent years, growing attention has been paid to the complex relationship between museums, collecting and colonialism in the Southwest Pacific. This paper contributes to this wider body of research by presenting a baseline study of Papua New Guinea’s two earliest museums: an Economic Museum built in 1907 and an Anthropology Museum initiated in 1907, but not built until 1914. Both museums were financed and run by government departments within the newly established Australian Territory of Papua. Both were imbricated in contemporary colonial agendas aimed at mapping, classifying and, ultimately, exploiting the natural and human resources of the colony. However, their histories also reveal significant differences in the personal and political agendas of their respective founders, Miles ‘Staniforth’ Smith and Hubert Murray, who in 1907 were in direct competition for the position of inaugural lieutenant-governor of the Territory. In the internecine rivalries of the day their respective museums provided each of them with a platform to publically demonstrate his aptitude and vision for governing the new colony.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)96-115
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Pacific History
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


    Dive into the research topics of 'For science, salvage, and state: Papua New Guinea’s earliest colonial museums'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this