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Hidden Treasures of Suva National Museum

By Shane Hussein Posted 9 May 2014

Commonly referred to as the ‘Fiji Museum’ or the ‘Museum of Suva Fiji’, the National Museum is an exciting destination for travellers looking to indulge in Fiji’s rich culture and volatile history.

Located within the Thurston Gardens in the city centre of Suva, the National Museum is considered to be Fiji’s most popular museum and displays an amazing array of antiquities and artifacts that date back to a time when the first Melanesians arrived in the archipelago over 3,700 years ago.

Indeed, the centerpiece of the National Museum is the ‘Ratu Finau’ - a huge waqa tabus or double-hulled sea-faring canoe, measuring 13.43 metres in length that was used to transport goods and people over long ocean distances. In addition, the museum has exhibitions around Fiji’s more recent history including early encounters with European explorers as well as evidence of cannibalistic rituals.


Source: travel.usnews.com

To uncover more of Suva’s amazing sights, check out latest Suva infographic from Fiji Airways.

A Tour Of The National Museum

Lonely Planet recommends to start the tour of the National Museum with the displays behind the ticket counter and then to work your way around the building in a clockwise fashion.
Taking this advice, your will first discover artifacts from the early Fijian settlements including some original examples of ancient jewelry, such as a chiefs’ whale-tooth necklace, as well as an intimidating array of Fijian war clubs and tools used by cannibals. Other cultural Fijian artifacts such as musical instruments and cooking utensils give you a dramatic snapshot into the daily life of the early Fijian settlers.

On the other side of the National Museum’s shop, you will find evidence of the increasing cultural clashes between the South Pacific nation and European peoples. In fact, it is here where you will discover one of the museum’s more confronting displays - the well-chewed shoe of Thomas Baker, a Christian missionary killed by Fijian cannibals for his indiscretions in 1867.
Head upstairs to discover the contributions made by Indian workers and their descendants to Fijian culture and society. Known as Girmitiyas, the Indians were brought to Fiji by British colonial rulers in the 1870s and worked on in the sugar plantations often in poor conditions. Here you will see evidence of their musical instruments and finely crafted jewelry.

Close your tour of the National Museum by inspecting the stunning range of beautiful masi art by some of Fiji’s finest contemporary artists.

About The Fiji Museum

Preserving Fiji’s cultural history has been an important part of the archipelago’s psyche since 1904, when the first collection of artifacts was gathered in Suva’s Town Hall by Sir William Allardyce.
A fire in 1919 significantly damaged the Town Hall and the museum’s exhibitions where moved to a variety of venues until the establishment of the current National Museum’s location in 1955. The choice of location in the Thurston Gardens is significant as it is on the same spot that the original village of Suva once stood.  

Thurston Gardens

After visiting the National Museum, it is highly recommended that you wander through Suva’s Botanical Gardens, also known as the stunning Thurston Gardens. It is on this site in 1843, that the Rewa people attacked the old fortified town, led by Chief Tabukaucoro, and burnt it to the ground in one of the fiercest and bloodiest battles in Fijian history. Many of the inhabitants were killed and eaten. Nowadays, the Thurston Gardens are maintained by the curators of the National Museum and boast an amazing collection of indigenous flora.  


Firewalkers from Beqa shifting hot rocks aside ready for firewalking at Thurston Gardens in Suva yesterday. Photo: JUSTINE MANNAN/Fiji Sun

Getting There and Away

The National Museum is a five-minute walk from the city centre of Suva and entry is FJ$7 for adults and FJ$5 for children up to 15 years. You can now fly to Suva direct from Sydney twice weekly with Fiji Airways, so it has never been easier to book your next holiday to Fiji today.

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