American Museum of Natural History: Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples

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Margaret Mead 1901-1978►

Margaret Mead was a groundbreaking anthropologist who served as a curator at the American Museum of Natural History for over 50 years. She embarked on field research in Samoa, New Guinea and Bali and authored over a dozen publications, including Coming of Age in Samoa.

Through her work, she sought to teach the public to value open-minded views towards other cultures. “Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess.”

In 1935, she published Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. Detailing female dominance in certain New Guinea cultures, this work became part of the foundation for the feminist movement.

The American Museum of Natural History first opened in the Central Park Arsenal in 1871. It moved to its present location on Central Park West in 1874. The museum’s mission is “To discover, interpret, and disseminate—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.”

Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples►

I visited on the first day the museum reopened after shutting down for COVID for months. Unencumbered by hordes of tourists, it was the best visit I have ever had here. Tickets were timed and limited in capacity, so I had most exhibits to myself

Margaret Mead laid the foundation for the exhibits here through her expeditions to the South Pacific. This is normally a popular gallery because of the replica Moai. This Easter Island head is famous because it appeared in the movie Night at the Museum. When the exhibits came to life, the Moai called Ben Stiller “Dum Dum”

Mead divided the gallery into six sections: Australia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

AMNH Posts►


Location: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024
Designation: NRHP
Date designated/established: June 24, 1976
Date of my visit: September 9, 2020

9 thoughts on “American Museum of Natural History: Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples

  1. Anonymous

    I remember way back when I took a class in anthropology and studied Margaret Mead. From your photos, it looks like they have done a good job on the exhibit, Theresa. Also, ever since I read Kontiki, I have wanted to go to Aku Aku. –Curt

    1. I never took anthropology in college, so I knew very little about Mead until I visited this gallery. I’d like to go anyplace in the south Pacific, but would settle for a state not attached to mine at this point.😀

    1. If you watch the first Night at the museum movie, you can experience the magic this museum was to me and other schoolchildren way back when. (Though one of the galleries in the movie is really at the Met, on the other side of central park)

  2. Pingback: American Museum of Natural History: Cultural Halls | National Parks With T

  3. When you visit the galleries, you have to listen to the tape of Margaret Mead’s career at the museum. She was a fascinating woman who accomplished so much and so well respected in her career. The exhibit could use some updating though.

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