University to display New Guinea artifacts Cal Lutheran collection was last exhibited in 1972

online arial,sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;”>Papua New Guinea artifacts belonging to California Lutheran University will be on display for the first time in more than 40 years.

“Ritual and Art: Pluralities in The Ellsworth La Boyteaux Collection of New Guinea Artifacts” will be exhibited from March 3 through April 7 in the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art on the Thousand Oaks campus. A reception will be held at 5 p.m. March 11.

The exhibit will feature many sculptures including Abelam ancestral figures. There are also Kwona bark paintings, drums, coconut-shell spinning tops, woven masks that adorned large yams during harvest ceremonies, and the prow of a canoe. The display will feature items of personal adornment such as jewelry and a bride’s hair covering, as well as utilitarian objects including elaborate ceiling hooks, daggers, spears and spear launchers.

The pieces come from the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea in the Prince Alexander Mountains and the surrounding area. Usually in storage on campus, the collection contains more than 150 objects collected in the early to mid-1960s from various groups in the East and West Sepik provinces.

Unlike other collections containing pieces that show significant revision by artists after removal from the field, often to increase their appeal to Westerners, this collection has been largely untouched.

The pieces provide a peek back in time to a period of increasing contact between Westerners and people from the Sepik River region, when artisans from the indigenous cultures began to create work specifically for foreign consumption. Some of the exhibit’s items were made expressly for sale to outsiders, but others were intended for everyday or ceremonial or military use.

An Australian patrol officer originally collected the artifacts and La Boyteaux, an art collector, later acquired them. The late Jerry Slattum, an art professor at Cal Lutheran, arranged for many of La Boyteaux’s pieces to be displayed on campus in 1972. La Boyteaux donated the collection to the university a few years later.

Admission to the exhibit and reception is free. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. It is located in William Rolland Stadium, north of Olsen Road between Campus Road and Mountclef Boulevard.

For more information, contact curator Rachel T. Schmid at 805-493-3697 or [email protected] or visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *