Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia
October 12, 2014–January 4, 2015
Main Exhibition Galleries
$12 adults/$10 students and seniors/$6 children/free for Museum Members
Warrior Chief Te Rauparaha, fixed in his canoe, Aotearoa (New Zealand), c. 1835; wood; 17 1/8 x 19 11/16 x 12 13/16 in. (43.5 x 50 x 32.5 cm); National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Building upon a long legacy of rich engagement with arts from the Pacific Islands since the 1940s, the Art Museum this fall will present an international exhibition featuring more than 60 of the most iconic Polynesian sculptures from museum and private collections around the world.
Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia, organized by the National Gallery of Australia, explores in unprecedented depth the relationship between art objects and Polynesian concepts of atua–gods, ancestors, and spirit beings. The exhibition examines the artworks as embodiments of atua and considers the layered meanings that underlie their creation.
The Museum is the exhibition's sole venue in the United States. Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. The exhibition is curated by Michael Gunn, senior curator of Pacific art at the National Gallery of Australia.
All tickets are timed and dated, and advance tickets for Atua are recommended. Tickets prices for the general public are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $6 for children ages 6 to 12. Children under the age of 6 are free. Members receive free tickets to the exhibition, and your membership level determines the number of tickets you may receive on each visit. Regular Members receive two free tickets per visit; Members at higher levels are eligible for more.
Advance tickets are available at Museum's Information Centers or through MetroTix
. A service fee of $3 per ticket applies for all MetroTix orders. When ordering through MetroTix, Members must present a special promo code to receive the correct number of free Member tickets. To obtain your specific code, please visit members.slam.org/code
or call 314.655.5335.
Same-day tickets are available in person at the Museum only
Opening lecture by Michael Gunn, curator of Atua
The Members' opening of Atua will coincide with an opening lecture by Michael Gunn, senior curator for Pacific Art from the National Gallery of Australia and curator of Atua. The lecture will be held in The Farrell Auditorium at 7:00 pm on Friday, October 10. The lecture is free, but advance tickets are highly recommended.
Gunn was the Saint Louis Art Museum's associate curator for the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas from 1999 to 2008. A past president of the International Pacific Arts Association, Gunn estimates that he has handled or photographed around 600,000 art objects from the Pacific region in 135 museums and dozens of private collections. His fieldwork has taken him to New Ireland, Australia's Western Desert, West Papua, Pulau Atauro, and many parts of Polynesia including Tonga, Rarotonga, and Tahiti.
Robust line-up of events accompanies Atua
Additional exhibition-related lectures and events will explore Polynesian arts and traditions in extraordinary depth, as well as examine how they have inspired Western culture from Gauguin to the "Tiki" aesthetic.
George Nuku, a contemporary Māori artist, will deliver an artist talk in the Museum's Farrell Auditorium at 2:00 pm on Sunday October 12. Although the event is free, advance tickets are highly recommended.
Visitors will learn about Polynesian art and concepts of Tiki and the kitschy, pop-culture interpretation of "tiki" at Tiki: Art and Idea in Polynesia and America, a November 7 lecture by David Doris, an art historian and professor at the University of Michigan, and Aoife O'Brien, Mellon Post-graduate Fellow in Oceanic Art. This 7:00 pm lecture in the Museum's Farrell Auditorium is free. Doris and O'Brien will deliver the same lecture exclusively for Members during Art After Dark on November 8.
A leading authority in the art and culture of the Pacific Islands, anthropologist Adrienne Kaeppler studies the interrelationships between social structure and the arts, including dance, music, poetry, and the visual arts. She will discuss her research in The Traditional Arts of Polynesia, a free lecture in The Farrell Auditorium at 7:00 pm on December 5.
Simon Kelly, the curator of modern and contemporary art, will link Atua to his own area of expertise in Gauguin and Tahiti, a Gallery Talk on November 6–7. Aoife O'Brien will give exhibition-related Gallery Talks November 20–21. For more information about these and other Gallery Talks, as well as other exhibition-related performances and events, check the enclosed calendar.
In addition to free tickets to Atua
, Members are invited to two exhibition previews on Friday, October 10 from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm; and on Saturday, October 11 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Advance tickets are highly recommended during these exclusive previews.
The entire Museum will be open during Art After Dark
, the annual party and open house for Members on Saturday, November 8 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. This year's event will celebrate Atua
with artist demonstrations, Polynesian music and performances, and the lecture Tiki: Art and Idea in Polynesia and America
. To register for this free event for Members only, call 314.655.5335 or visit members.slam.org/events
Young Friends Members are invited to enjoy Atua, meet curators and enjoy light hors d'oeuvres and "curated cocktails" from a cash bar during a happy hour and tour on Wednesday, December 3 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. To learn more about the Young Friends, visit members.slam.org/youngfriends