Libraries, Museums and Art Gallery in Papua New Guinea

Until the 1960s libraries catered almost entirely to the expatriate community. In 1926 a privately funded Library Institute was opened in Port Moresby. The first public libraries were set up in Port Moresby and Rabaul in 1936; both were destroyed during World War II. In 1947 the Education Department organized public library services for major towns. Responsibility for the fledgling service changed several times until it was taken over by the Department of Information in 1962. Between 1947 and 1961 a limited English-language Village Library Service based on schools, missions and local councils catered to the few literate PNGans. In the early 1960s the inadequacy of the provision of library servicies for PNGans was criticized by international agencies. From 1962 the library of the Administrative College provided a service for public servants. In 1967 a library (now the Michael Somare library) was established at UPNG. The university library also houses an important collection of manuscripts, photographs and specialist books in a New Guinea Collection. In 1975 Cabinet approved the establishment of a national library service and John (later Sir John) Yocklunn was appointed Acting National Librarian. A building to accommodate the National Library was provided by Australia and the library was officially opened in October 1978. In 1993 the National Library also operated three public libraries in the National Capital District and gave guidance to provincial libraries.

The National Museum in Port Moresby collects artifacts and arranges displays illustrating PNG’s cultural and natural history. It also undertakes some research in these fields. The National Art Gallery, which is attached to the Museum, exhibits local paintings and crafts. At Goroka, in the Eastern Highlands Province, the J.K. McCarthy Museum shows artifacts from a variety of highland cultures and photographs taken at European contact in the 1930s.

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