Carol E. Mayer

The bulk of my research is concerned with the complex intersections between museum collections, contemporary art practices and different knowledge systems. My current research is based on traveller and missionary collections and the legacies of early collecting practices. Related to this I am also researching 19th and early 20th century photography.

Given such a broad collections responsibility there is always the need for ongoing research on the complex world of intellectual and intangible property rights and the exploration of the potency of objects.  My work has resulted in collaborative exhibitions at MOA and elsewhere.

Head of the curatorial department at MOA, with particular responsibility for the Pacific and African collections, and the European and Canadian ceramics collections. Regional interests include Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, New Zealand and British Columbia. Sometimes teaches Museum related courses for the Anthropology Department and the University of Victoria.


2014   “A Green Dress – Vanuatu” in Who Cares? The Material Heritage of British Missions in Africa and the Pacific, and its Future (ed. Karen Jacobs et al).  In press

2014    A Discerning Eye: The Walter C. Koerner collection of European Ceramics. Figure I Press (in press). 184 pp

2014    Paradise Lost? Contemporary Works from the Pacific. MOA exhibition catalogue. 16 pp.

2013    Seeking the Savage: The Pacific Journeys of Frank Burnett, 1896-1923. Crawford House Publishing, Australia (in progress)

2013    No Longer Captives of the Past: The story of a Reconciliation on Erromango.Co-authored with Anna Naupa & Vanessa Warris, Erromango cultural Association (ECA).  Museum of Anthropology & ECA, 128 pp.

2012    Review: Museums, Colonialism and Identity: a history of Naga collections in Britain. A. West, London, 2011. Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.27, issue 4, October 2012, pp. 431-433.

2012    Pleased to Meet You: Introductions by Gwyn Hanssen-Pigott. MOA Museum note 41. Exhibition catalogue (8 pp)

2011   “Expressions of Continuity and Reflections of Rupture:  Contemporary Pacific Art in an Anthropology Museum” book chapter: book Pacific Island Artists: Navigating the Global Art World.  Karen Stevenson (ed). Masalai Press

2011    Review: Photographing Papua: Representation, Colonial Encounters and Imaging in the Public Domain. Max Quanchi. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007. The Journal of Pacific History

2010    The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Douglas & McIntyre  Publishing, Vancouver.  Co-edited with Anthony Shelton, 260pp.

2010    Museum People: Space and Performance (exhibition catalogue).  Nanaimo Museum, 48 pp.,

2009    A Reconciliation ceremony on Erromango: not a story about cannibalism. Tok Blong Pasifik, No.2, Vol 7, 2009, pp 7-11.

2009    Review: Museums in the Material World, edited by Simon J. Knell, London & New York, Routledge, 2007, 374 pp. in Museum Management and Curatorship, , Vol 24. No.2, June, 2009, 191-192.

2009    Review: Stopover a story of migration. Photographs, introduction and captions by Bruce Connew, with a story by Brij V. Lal. Wellington, Victoria University Press, 2007. The Journal of Pacific History,44:2,236-237.

2009    Chasing a Dream: The art of Martin Morububundo. In “Hailands to Ailans,”   Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria, BC.

2007    Transitions of a Still Life: Ceramic Work by Tam Irving, Anvil Press, Vancouver, 2007, 128 pp.

2006    Rhythms of the Garamut (catalogue introduction). November 2006. In

2006    The traveller and the Island Belle: Frank Burnett’s photography in the Pacific: Journal of Pacific History, 29:2, 2006. 217-42. 

2005    Review of Liberating Culture—Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Museums, Curation and Heritage Preservation 2003, by Christina F. Kreps, Routledge.  In Museum Management and Curatorship 20 (1):85-87.

2005    Review of Samoan Art & Artists: O Measina a Samoa, 2002, by Sean Mallon.  In The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs 17 (1): 255-257.

2005    Gladsome moments: From the museum to the academy…and back?. Museum Management and Curatorship 20: 171- 181.

2005    Transformations: Ceramics 2005 (exhibition catalogue). Burnaby Art Gallery, 52 pp.


2013    Paradise Lost? Contemporary Works from the Pacific. UBC Museum of Anthropology and Satellite Gallery (Vancouver), July – September 2013.

2013    Islam. UBC Museum of Anthropology.

2012    Pleased to Meet You: Introductions by Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. UBC Museum of Anthropology, Nov 2012 – March 2013

2011    A Green Dress:  Memory, objects and museums.  UBC Museum of Anthropology, September 2011 – March 2012

2010    Museum People: Space and Performance.  Photo exhibition.  Nanaimo Museum, October – December 2010

2009    Permanent installations in Multiversity Galleries:  African, Oceanic, South-East Asian and European Collections.

2008    Ways of Knowing:  Multiversity Galleries at the Museum of Anthropology.  Photo exhibition, July – September,

2007    Transitions of a Still Life:  ceramic works by Tam Irving.  Burnaby Art Gallery, March – April

2005    TransFormations – Ceramics 2005.  Burnaby Art Gallery.  An exhibition of juried contemporary ceramics that addressed historicism in contemporary works and the role of memory in the creation of history.

2004    *Site to Sight: Imaging the Sacred: Museum of anthropology, (MOA).  A photography based exhibition that sought to discover and reveal concepts of sacredness in the urban environment.  

2003    Pasifika: Island Journeys. The Frank Burnett Collection of Pacific arts: MOA. This exhibition addressed the relationship between the museum’s founding collection and history, ethnography, art, literature, performance and contemporary museum practice