Oceania at the Tropenmuseum is not in the first place a book on art form Oceania, but rather a treatise on the coming into existence and growth of a well-known Oceanic collection, which started at the beginning of the 20th century with the bringing together of the collection of the Colonial Museum in the Dutch provincial town of Haarlem and the ethnographic collection of Artis, the Amsterdam zoo. The objects were, then and later on, brought together by early explorers, travellers, scientific expeditions, missionaries, Dutch government officials, ethnologists and collectors, most of them within the context of Dutch colonial presence in New Guinea, from where the majority of the objects originate. During the last hundred years the intellectual approach to the collection changed from evidences of cultures in far-away places to the cultural heritage of world citizens, whose objects of art and material culture has been amassed during the colonial period of Western history. This richly illustrated book emphasizes this historical context and the way the objects were collected and presented to the public till this day.
This is the second volume of a series of ten books that discuss the collection of the Tropenmuseum and the histories and stories that accompany them. The books elucidate the often hidden backgrounds of a museum collection, discussing objects within their original context, social histories and their contemporary meaning. The main emphasis lies on the history of the specific museum collection, with its different collecting and presentation practices placed in a particular time and place. Each volume is richly illustrated with object and photographs from the Tropenmuseum collection.