Ernest Thomas Gilliard in Papua New Guinea Ernest Thomas Gilliard in Papua New Guinea By Virginia-Lee Webb, Ph.D. There are numerous reasons that individuals travel to Papua New Guinea and the surrounding island archipelagos. The national emblem and the flag illustrate one reason: It is the home of the bird of paradise, and for ornithologists, it is a wonderland of plumage. E.T. Gilliard holding Xanthomelus bakeri, Maratambu Village, Adelbert Mountains, New Guinea, 1959, photo by Margaret Gilliard, courtesy of AMNH Research Library | Digital Special Collections In the 1950–1960s, Ernest Thomas Gilliard (1912–1965) and his wife, Margaret, an artist, made several expeditions to different regions of Papua New Guinea and also New Britain. “Tom” Gilliard was a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. His extensive scientific work was published by the museum, and his legacy continues posthumously through the efforts of his colleague Mary LeCroy in the ornithology department.[i] His research contributed to the knowledge of one of the world’s rare and remotely located species of birds. Additionally, the photographs he made during his visits to Papua New Guinea provide us with a snapshot of some of the country’s greatest art and architecture made in communities on the Sepik River. Gilliard made several trips to Papua New Guinea and traveled extensively on the Sepik River from December 1953 to March 1954.[ii] He returned ten years later, April 11–15, 1964, making “a canoe trip down the Sepik from Ambunti to Kanganaman and then to Angoram.”[iii] Like travelers before him, the 1953–1954 expedition had stopovers in Angoram and Marienberg, the latter being a significant mission post established by the Society of the Divine Word order (SVD) whose members shared their knowledge of the area with visitors. Gilliard’s base camp was Kanganaman village.[iv] This was a fortuitous choice, as the large and important ceremonial house was standing and Gilliard was able to make a significant corpus of black-and-white and color photographs notably documenting the spectacular architecture and sculptures. While Gilliard’s work was focused on observing and obtaining avifauna for the American Museum of Natural History, with examples also deposited at the Department of Agriculture, Port Moresby,[v] he also collected sculptures for the museum. Similar examples of the mei mask illustrated here were deposited in the museum’s collection.[vi] The two sculptures published here, a mei mask from the Sepik River area and a drum possibly from New Britain, were in Gilliard’s personal collection. It is not clear exactly where Gilliard collected or purchased either object. The mask is a type that is created and used among the Iatmul and Sawos peoples. In addition to Kanganaman, Gilliard visited the Sawos area and Gaikorobi village on February 8–9, 1954, where he photographed the ceremonial house, objects and people. Mei masks can be seen in several of his photographs.[vii] Gilliard also traveled to New Britain.[viii] He started on November 19, 1958, in Kandrian in the southwestern region of the island and headed toward the Whiteman Range.[ix] As before, the sighting of birds and the procurement of specimens were the primary objectives for his expedition. Again, he made Kodachrome and black-and-white photographs which give us a glimpse into his activities and a view of that time period in the region. Gilliard’s photographs abundantly illustrate the articles about his expeditions featured in the National Geographic Magazine. Today these images provide us with a glimpse of the rich artistic traditions of the Papua New Guinea communities during this time and add to the mosaic of images made by visitors in the twentieth century.  The author wishes to thank Joel L. Cracraft, Mary LeCroy and George A. Corbin of the Ornithology Department of the American Museum of Natural History for making Gilliard’s photographs available for research and for sharing their knowledge of his work with me.  For a discussion of these photographs, see George A. Corbin. “E.T. Gilliard’s Ethnographic Photographs on the Middle Sepik River: Kanganaman Village, 1953–54.” Pacific Art: Persistence, Change and Meaning. Edited by Anita Herle, Nick Stanley, Karen Stevenson and Robert L. Welsch. Adelaide, Crawford House Publishing, 2002: 61–81.  E. Thomas Gillard and Mary LeCroy. “Birds of the Middle Sepik Region, New Guinea. Results of the American Museum of Natural History Expedition to New Guinea in 1953–1954.” Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Volume 132, Article 4, 1966: 247.  Gillard and LeCroy, 1966: 249.  Gilliard and LeCroy 1966: 250. See also Corbin 2002 for a discussion of Gilliard’s objectives.  Many of the objects can be seen through the American Museum’s website. For similar examples, see objects 80.1/2264 and 80.1/2265.  See color photographs he made in Gaikorobi in Gilliard, E. Thomas. “To the Land of the Head-hunters: An Ornithologist Finds Bird Rarities and Glimpses a Dying Culture in Innermost New Guinea.” National Geographic Magazine, Oct. 1955: 437+. See also his black-and-white photograph number 164.  Gilliard, E. Thomas. “Exploring New Britain’s Land of Fire.” National Geographic Magazine, Feb. 1961: 260+.  Ibid. 1961: 264.