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New Caledonia Travel Guide

New Caledonia Museum

This outstanding museum (closed Tuesday), 45 avenue du Maréchal Foch, two blocks south of the Bernheim Library, was founded in 1971.

Kanak cultural objects are displayed downstairs, including elements from cases (traditional houses), masks, wooden statues, fishing, hunting, and farming implements, traditional currency, canoes, war clubs, ceremonial axes, bamboo carvings, baskets, and pottery.

Upstairs are artifacts from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Irian Jaya. A case from Lifou is mounted inside the building, a botanical collection graces the courtyard, and in the rear garden behind the museum is a traditional full-sized grande case in the Canala style.

The historic photos are good, and you can watch videos narrated in French. It's open daily except Tuesday and holidays with reduced admission for students and persons older than 60—don't miss it.

On Place du Mwa Ka, across the street from the museum toward the water, is a 12-meter-high totem pole called Mwa Ka, erected in 2004. Carved by Kanak sculptors from the eight customary regions of New Caledonia, Mwa Ka serves as the mast of a large concrete canoe, The name Mwa Ka means "the big house" and the park is something of a Kanak meeting place in Nouméa.

If you'd like to clear your head after the museum, climb Mont Coffyn for the sweeping view; there's an old ceramic map at the top for orientation. To get there, go south on avenue du Maréchal Foch to the American War Memorial, then left on rue Duquesne at the Maison du Sport and two blocks up to rue Guynemer, where you turn right, then left, and up the hill. Use the map on this website. As you stand beside the immense two-armed Cross of Lorraine, you'll be able to pick out Amédée Lighthouse.

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