Showcasing Fiji culture to the world

Greater access to Fiji’s cultural heritage will soon be just a click away.

With U.S. assistance, the Fiji Museum in Suva is digitizing its collection of more than 10,000 objects, photographs and archival material showcasing the country’s history and rich culture.

Jewelry displayed on cushion (© Fiji Museum)
Early Indian migrant jewelry, called sirbandi, is worn in hair. (© Fiji Museum)

The support comes from a $202,000 grant from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) 20th Anniversary Partnership Program. The AFCP is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.

Through this multiyear project, the Fiji Museum works with U.S. museums to improve its collections management operations and expand access to its collections. When complete, the project will link Fiji’s diverse communities, as well as the world, to the museum’s collection, said Fiji Museum Director Sipiriano Nemani.

The museum already has various items online in its virtual museum and the project will add thousands more. Recordings and archival materials, such as manuscripts, photographs and maps, will become available to internet users around the globe.

Carving of female head (© Fiji Museum)
A carved, wooden female head from the Solomon Islands is decorated with shell inlay and a wig. (© Fiji Museum)

“The expansion of our current virtual museum will allow international museums, researchers, national schools, higher education institutions and our diasporic communities overseas access to all this information online, thereby promoting Fiji’s diverse history and languages at all levels in different parts of the world,” said Kate Vusoniwailala, chairperson of the museum’s board.

The core of the museum’s collection is representative of the iTaukei, or indigenous people of Fiji. Up to 40% of the other items cover other ethnic communities, including Asian and Oceanic cultures that make up Fiji’s population.

Most of the artifacts were derived from trees, including wood carvings, sculptures and bark cloth. These include:

  • Oil dishes.
  • War clubs.
  • Kava (grog) bowls.
  • Fishing gear.
  • Ceremonial and ritualistic materials.
  • Breast plates.
  • A gun collection.
  • Musical instruments.
  • Canoes and other vessels used for movement on water.
People sitting around large bowl (© Fiji Museum)
A traditional Fijian kava ceremony focuses around the communal kava bowl. (© Fiji Museum)