Dr Andrew Mills

  • Research Associate (History of Art)

Research interests

My research interests focus mainly on Pacific art history and the sociocultural history of Oceania since 1700, the anthropology of art and material culture studies, museology and the history of (particularly ethnographic) collections in Europe since the 18th century.

  • The art history of the Pacific Islands, and more specifically Polynesia, and Western Polynesia during the period 1700-1900 AD. Although my interests in Pacific art are broad and general, I specialise in the study of historical textiles and wood sculpture, and have a particular love for the arts of Tonga and Fiji.
  • Historically, I am interested in the cultural dynamics of interaction between different Pacific Island cultures, particularly in terms of trade, style, religious practices and warfare. I also have interests in early European exploration and influence in the Pacific, Christian missionary activity, British colonialism and the contemporary Pacific art scene.
  • My interests in the anthropology of art include semiotic analysis, aesthetics, proportion and materiality, stylistic chronology, provenance and cultural biography, operational sequence analysis and the social networks of art production and circulation.
  • As a former curator and museum researcher, my interests in museology and the history of collections focus on exploratory and scientific voyage collections of the 18th and 19th centuries, Enlightenment cabinets of curiosity and early museums in Britain, documentation analysis, arms & armour, and the representation of ethnographic subjects through exhibition.

Through the current AHRC-funded project Situating Pacific Barkcloth Production in Time & Place I am conducting research into the historical manufacture, style and use of this important and beautiful non-woven fabric in Polynesia. Our team are using a novel combination of Pacific art history, materials science and conservation science to answer longstanding questions about the materials, style, production techniques, deterioration and care of historical barkcloth collections.


Additional Information

I am presently the Secretary of the UK Museum Ethnographers Group.