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Living with the Sea

Charting the Pacific

Living with the Sea: Charting the Pacific is a special exhibition curated by three undergraduate students from the University of Pennsylvania: senior Ashleigh David (Anthropology major), senior Erin Spicola (Anthropology major), and junior Kia DaSilva (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Music double-major). Highlighting the Penn Museum’s rarely seen Oceania collection, Living with the Sea: Charting the Pacific explores the ways the sea inspires people from the Pacific to create materials and meanings that connect their past, present, and future.

The artifacts on display range from pieces that were influenced by the sea and used in everyday life to important cultural symbols that transmit meaning across generations. From nose ring ornaments from the Solomon Islands to body modification and scarification tools from Kiribati, to the ancient navigational charts that would guide sailors to the areas with plentiful fish, the student-led exhibit outlines the unique relationship that people in Oceania share with the sea: a natural resource that shapes their way of life.

As a part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Year of Data, Living with the Sea: Charting the Pacific ties archaeological, ethnographic, and archival data and runs through Feb. 28, 2021.