Our mission is to amplify the collective wisdom of the Pacific Islands people of Oceania through a permanent collection, educational programs, rotating exhibits, and living arts. Our purpose is to connect the community to resources and foster intercultural exchanges with appreciation and respect.
Robert Gumbiner, MD, the founder of the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM) and an avid traveler, art collector, and philanthropist, was first introduced to the art of the Pacific Islands in the late 1960s while traveling to remote destinations in the Northern Pacific Islands. As chairman and founder of FHP International, formerly one of the largest health maintenance organizations in the United States, Dr. Gumbiner brought FHP’s healthcare services to the island of Guam in the early 1970s, where his appreciation for the art and culture of the Pacific Islands deepened.
FHP’s services were extended to the outer islands, with 30 dispensaries serving the populations of these remote areas. During this time, and as he expanded his personal collection of Pacific Island art, Dr. Gumbiner realized these arts and the culture they reflected were in danger of being
lost. In 1994 he established the Ethnic Art Institute of Micronesia (EAIM) on the island of Yap, Micronesia. The EAIM’s primary function was to revive the traditional cultures of Micronesia through the restoration, recreation, and revival of indigenous arts, dance, and customs. Recreations included men’s meeting houses, cookhouses, and men’s carving huts. An active guild of artisans was established through EAIM to accurately and exclusively reproduce Pacific Island arts and crafts in traditional modes using indigenous materials, including sculptures, carvings, fabrics, and story boards.
As EAIM amassed its large collection of original and faithfully reproduced objects, Dr. Gumbiner continued collecting Pacific Island art from EAIM and other sources. His collection was shown at the Hippodrome Gallery and his private gallery in Long Beach, CA, and showcased in conjunction with the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA. In 2008, Dr. Gumbiner unveiled his plans to establish the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum in Long Beach (near the Museum of Latin American Art, which he founded in 1996). His dream was to bring the essence of the islands to the mainland by providing a permanent forum for the exhibition of the art, culture, and traditions of the Northern Pacific Islands.
Prior to his death in January 2009, Dr. Gumbiner was able to oversee the initial stages of the design and construction of the museum, including the exterior mural depicting a traditional Micronesian scene with built-in carvings. To honor Dr. Gumbiner’s love of the Pacific Islands and the enduring legacy he leaves with the creation of this unique museum, pieces from his private collection will continue to be exhibited at PIEAM.