Through art and literature, learn about the history and traditions of the Cook Islands in a library and museum run by friendly local residents.
Away from sunny shores and thick island vegetation is the peaceful refuge of the Cook Islands Library and Museum. Come here to learn about the fascinating past of this region of more than a dozen islands scattered across the Pacific Ocean. Borrow books for your beach reading too.
See displays of cookware used in the Polynesian islands for centuries. The music exhibit includes the well-known ukulele and other lesser-known instruments: the pate (wooden slit drums), vivo (wooden nose flute) and shell trumpet. Examine intricately carved weaponry and admire the Cook Islands shell exhibits. Local photographs and artwork adorn the walls. Hanging from the ceiling is a giant bedcover called a tivaivai. Its 56,000 small squares combine to show an outrigger canoe speeding through the waves.
Photo exhibits include works by local artist Alistair Campbell and Bill Johnson’s documentation of the British Royal Family visit in 1974. Appreciate the traditional ceremony of local residents clad in green fronds carrying esteemed visitors on litters high in the air.
Volunteers support this organization in two buildings dedicated to preserve the history and culture of the Cook Islands. The library has progressed from a mobile operation at the back of the bus to a permanent structure in the capital city. Examine the colorful mural on the building’s exterior depicting ancient and ongoing aspects of the Cook Islands. Animal life includes birds, fish, lizards and a whale. Notice the sun, ocean, sandy shores, primitive sailing boats and native clothing illustrated in a colorful Polynesian art style
Purchase local reference books. Before you leave the island, drop off your used reading materials to contribute to the library’s collection. Pay for a visitor membership to be able to borrow library materials during your stay on the island. The museum is open Monday to Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings. There is a fee and no photos are allowed inside.
Cook Islands Library and Museum is in northern Rarotonga in the uptown area of Avarua, close to many island restaurants and accommodations. Fly to the island from Auckland in 4 hours or Sydney in 6 hours.