PAST: Oceania

Travels through the immensity
Thu 26-10-2017 - Sun 29-04-2018

Oceania, an infinite continent suspended between the immensity of the sky and the sea, is still linked, in our imagination, to the great voyages of discovery and to the unknown.

Over 60,000 years ago, the first colonists arrived from Africa and began to inhabit Papua and Australia. Between the 3rd millennium BCE and 1,000 CE new seafarers from South-East Asia settled in central and eastern parts of the Pacific. Not until the 18th century did Europeans, James Cook foremost among them, begin to explore this vast area systematically. Thanks to Henri Lavachery’s 1934 expedition to Easter Island, aboard the ship Mercator, Belgium made its own contribution to scientific knowledge of these mysterious lands.

Maps, ship models and archival documents, as well as the reconstitution of a walkway from the Mercator, invited the visitor to cross the great ocean in the footsteps of these explorers from the past. In addition to evoking these various journeys, the exhibition showcased the rich collections of the Cinquantenaire Museum, the MIM and the Royal Museum of Central Africa. More than 250 objects, from Papua, New-Caledonia, Micronesia, Fiji, Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Easter Island, revealed the richness and originality of the creations of the inhabitants of Oceania.

Special guest: Jean-Paul Forest

Through the work of the Tahitian artist Jean Paul Forest, the final room of the Oceania exhibition revealed a continent rooted in contemporaneity, far removed from the age-old folk clichés to which Oceania is too often reduced. Jean Paul Forest has lived and worked in Polynesia for many years.  The Tahitian valley of Papeno’o provides his energy and his inspiration, as well as the river-polished pebbles which form the basis of his creations. On the borders of land art and of minimalism, his works – stones broken and stitched together, twisted pebbles, works installed in the landscape – bear witness to the transience and the fragility of an ecosystem perpetually at risk.

Exhibition kids friendly!

There were special circuits for children and a play area with games too.

The exhibition, under the patronage of their majesties the King and Queen of the Belgians, was organised in collaboration with the Royal Museum of Central Africa. With the support of the National Lottery, National Geographic Netherlands, Air Tahiti Nui and the Mercator Sailing Ship foundation, among others.


Opening hours
Tuesday - Friday: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 a.m. - 6 p.m.
24/12 and 31/12: closed at 3 p.m.
Last tickets 1 hour before closing time
closed on 1 & 11 Nov, 25 Dec, 1 Jan

Entrance fees
€ 15 | € 12 | € 5

! Combined ticket exhibition(s) + galleries: € 18

Buy your ticket online

Guided tours
+ 32 (0)2 741 73 02 (Tuesday-Friday, 9am-12am & 1pm-4pm)

Cinquantenaire Museum
Parc of the Cinquantenaire 10
1000 Brussels
+ 32 (2) 741 73 31