Set in the heart of Suva’s historical Thurston Gardens, the Fiji Museum is unrivaled in the islands for the extent of its collection of anthropological and historical material, having been founded much earlier than other Pacific Island Museums. It holds a remarkable collection which includes archaeological material dating back over 3,500 years and cultural objects representing indigenous, Indo-Fijian and other communities that have settled in the island group over the past 200 years.
Archaeology shows that Fiji was first colonized by people who used the distinctive and intricately decorated pottery known as ‘Lapita’, dated between 1736 and 1266 BC. This gallery leads us through the future migrations of people to the early 1900s and introduces us to Vitian life, including tribal warfare, cannibalism, and Ratu Finau – the last waqa drua (double-hulled ocean going canoe) made in Vulaga in 1913.
From western awareness of the Fiji Islands in 1643 to the arrival of bêche-de-mer, copra and sandalwood traders, 1800-1850, to the colonials and indentured labor, 1879-1920. See the infamous remains of the sole of Reverend Baker’s boot, the only non-Fijian Missionary known to have been killed and eaten; and the rudder of HMS Bounty – subject of the famous mutiny in 1789. The Bounty was burned by the mutineers at Pitcairn Island, its remains being recovered in 1932. Also on display is a copy of the Deed of Cession when Fiji became a colony of Great Britain, the medals of the great statesman Ratu Josefa Lalabalavu Vanaaliali Sukuna, and the figurehead of the Siria – a vessel that brought many indentured laborers to Fiji and was wrecked on Nasilai reef with the tragic loss of many lives
Temporary Exhibition Space
This space contains rotating exhibitions of items in the Fiji Museum collection. Please phone the museum for details of the exhibition currently on display, or if you would like to use this space for your own exhibition.
Masi beaten into a ‘cloth’ from the bark of a paper mulberry tree, is an integral and traditional part of life in Fiji. Its manufacture is still a regular part of village life and its uses are many and varied. Masi was once used for clothing, in worship, warfare and ceremonial duties and for all manner of chiefly and family celebrations. Today it is particularly important in marriage and funeral ceremonies, and is used as a decorative item by both Fijians and visitors alike.
From 1879-1920, 60,000 Indians came to Fiji under girmit – an agreement of five years servitude on a plantation in Fiji. Two-thirds of the Indians remained in Fiji after their girmit and their descendents now make up nearly half the population. This gallery tells the story of the indentured laborers and their families, and the customs and traditions they brought with them from all over the Subcontinent.
The art gallery contains rotating exhibitions of items in the Fiji Museum collection and the work of local artists – professional and amateur alike (sometimes available for purchase). Please ask for details of the exhibition currently on display, or if you would like to use the gallery for your own exhibition.
Fiji Museum Gift Shop
Contains a wide selection of historical and cultural publications – many printed by the Fiji Museum, exclusive handmade replica artifacts, carving, jewellery, handicrafts, masi, pottery and weaving. Plus books, cards, charts, clothing, paintings, posters and more.
Verandah & Mosamosa Cafe
An elegant, covered area available for exhibitions, functions and demonstrations – local potters work on the verandah regularly. The museum and the Friends of the Fiji Museum use this space for social evenings of a historical or cultural nature, quiz nights and the annual fundraising ball. Please contact the museum for details of the next function, or if you would like to use this attractive space for an event yourself. The café serves a wide range of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, snacks and cakes.
The two main pottery-making areas for traditional potters in Fiji today are Sigatoka and Rewa. Most Thursdays and Fridays Traivina Wati, a skilled potter from Nasilai in Rewa Delta demonstrates her pottery making skills at the Museum. She is joined by Daiana Tuqea from Nakabuta in the Sigatoka Valley on the first week of every month.
The library contains a wealth of material on a diverse range of subjects especially Pacific culture and history. Many of the 12,500 plus books and periodicals are not held in any other library. There is also a unique collection of over 10,000 historical photographs, copies of which are available to view. Reprints of these photographs can be ordered for personal and limited commercial use.
Mon-Thur: 9:30am – 4:00pm
Fri: 9:30am- 3.30pm
Sat & Public Holidays: 9:30am – 4:00pm
For more information about the Fiji Museum please contact
The Fiji Museum (enquiries)
Suva, Fiji Islands
Tel: +679 3315944
Fax: +679 3302 552
Email: [email protected]