Museum at Home 



Scattered like stars across the night sky are over 20,000 islands in Oceania, with a human history rich in ritual, narrative tradition, innovation and art. We ask you to view this map without the geographical political boundaries. See us as people connected by one ocean. See us all now as part of humankind connected to one planet, Earth.


The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum acknowledges the Tongva people as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (Los Angeles basin, South Channel Islands) and pay our respects to the honuukvetam (ancestors), 'ahiihirom (elders), and 'eyoohiinkem (relatives/relations) past, present, and emerging.

We are sharing a few artifacts online from our permanent collection and we recognize the unique kinship that exist between objects, people and their histories and the obligation that comes with this recognition. Google map markers show location of the artifact's origin.

Creation Myth of Guahan, told by Alyssa Lujan
Creation Myth of Pohnpei, told by Alyssa Lujan

Masi (Tapa), Fiji

Cloth made of bark is generically known as tapa across Oceania. Tapa making and related knowledge and skills are one of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage shared among the Pacific Islands. Despite some variations in terms of the raw materials, techniques, and usages, tapa has been an integral part of the life of Oceania communities with an important cultural significance and social role in connecting families and communities. 

Tapwanu Mask, Mortlock Islands, Chuuk                                                                              

This mask was created for warding off hurricanes and typhoons in order to protect the breadfruit crop. The masks are produced by a secret organization called “soutapuanu.”  This group observes certain taboos and is responsible for the mask songs and dances.  The only masks indigenous to Micronesia come from the Mortlock Islands, south of Chuuk. The soutapuanu also maintain a large house where they hold performances and feasts during the months of April and May. The masks decorate the support beams, pillars, and the boathouses.  The masks are either male or female.

Machis, Fais 


The art of weaving is believed to be a gift from the gods. The traditional materials of Fais weavers are banana and hibiscus fiber, but today colored cotton mill thread has become the material of choice.  Like the heirloom “fine mats” of Samoa and Tonga and comparable “chiefly” objects of other Oceania societies, the machi embodies the wisdom and honor of the island chief. Prior to the Christianization of Fais Islands and Ulithi Atoll, the machi functioned as an inaugural mantle in the investiture ceremonies for paramount chiefs to these two island communities. Embodying the sacred nature of the office of island chief, the machi symbolically linked the incoming chief with his predecessors and with the island’s ancestral spirits. 


Towards the front is the Uunong ceremonial bowl from our permanent collection. Behind the artifact, is the 3D model of Uunong ceremonial bowl, a collaboration with PIEAM intern Jacinda Earword; Dr. Mariah Proctor-Tiffany, CSULB, College of the Arts; and Dr. Christiane Beyer, CSULB College of Engineering.



January 11– July 6, 2020                               


(be)longing is an exhibit to raise the consciousness of Oceania and her people. Experience the Museum’s collection through the community narrative. For the exhibit duration, artists & cultural practitioners of Oceania ancestry will be given the opportunity to study the historical and cultural context that led an artifact leaving Oceania, entering institutions, as well as the legacies of those practices in the present.  Each artist and cultural practitioner will share a creative response reflecting on their discovery. Follow us on Instagram to stay notified on these special events.

The film Eating Up Easter will be screening in the Museum’s media room with limited capacity of 3 from the same household or group (subject to change). Eating Up Easter is a new documentary from native Rapanui (Easter Island) filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu. In this cinematic letter to his son, Rapu explores the modern dilemma of their people who risk losing everything to the globalizing effects of tourism. The film follows four islanders, descendants of the ancient statue builders, who are working to tackle the consequences of their rapidly developing home. This film is a gift to the community from Kartemquin Films & filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu. 

Runtime 1h 16m.



Stay tuned!



Carrying the Pacific: Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenthood

Guest Co-Curator: Stevie Merino

July 20, 2019  – December 31, 2019

Island Ink: Tattoo Traditions of the Pacific

Guest Curator: Tricia Allen

August 25, 2018 – June 30, 2019

Fa'a Sāmoa: The Samoan Way

The Falana'i and Lisa Papadakis Ala Collection

January 6, 2017 – June 4, 2017


Becoming PIEAM: From Collection to Museum

April 29, 2016 – December 30, 2016


Marks of the Ancestors: Tattoo Traditions of the Pacific

Guest Curator: Tricia Allen

October 17, 2015 – April 17, 2016


PIKO: Pacific Islander Contemporary Art

Guest Curator: Dan Taulapapa McMullin

January 10, 2015 – July 5, 2015


Out of Taiwan: Shared Connections in the Pacific

Photographs by Danee Hazama

Guest Co-Curator: Wennifer Lin-Haver

October 26, 2013 – April 20, 2014

Island Where | Community Exhibit
June 6, 2013 – October 20, 2013

​‘Aikona: A Solo Art Show by ‘Amelia Niumeitolu

February 2, 2013 – June 2, 2013​


Faces of Ceremony | Community Exhibit

September 16, 2011 – December 2, 2012


Walk-In | Community Exhibit
October 15, 2010 – September 11, 2011

Legend of Ngkeklau, storyboard, Belau  Robert Gumbiner Collection

The storyboard is an art form that echoes the rich cultural heritage of the people of Belau (Palau) in the Western Caroline Islands of Micronesia. For centuries, Palauans have embellished the inside and outside of their meeting houses, called bai, with carved wooden planks and tie beams telling the legends, myths, and histories of their islands. Traditionally the story artwork was an integral part of the bai architecture which also serves the dual purpose of  teaching social values to the people. 

Throughout the Pacific, islanders are making the ultimate commitment to their cultural heritage and embedding it in their skin. Oftentimes, the designs follow the norms set centuries ago, but both culture and art are dynamic and ever-evolving. The tattoos of today exhibit great creativity commonly referencing the old style while simultaneously representing the modern day individual. The Pacific style has gained popularity worldwide and has influenced artists everywhere. The art work represented here includes artists from all reaches of the world.

Paitangi Ostick photographed by Tricia Allen

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