Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Adrienne Kaeppler

Curator of Oceanic Ethnology
Department / Division
  • M.A., University of Hawaii, Manoa
  • B.A., University of Hawaii, Manoa
  • Ph.D., University of Hawaii, Manoa
Research Interests

Dr. Adrienne Kaeppler with one of the famous pieces from the collection, A  Dance Paddle from Rapa Nui, Easter Island.


Dr. Adrienne L. Kaeppler is a research anthropologist and curator for the Pacific Islands in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.  Although she originally studied English Literature and Music at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, she decided to combine these interests with her love of museums and moved to Honolulu to obtain her degrees in Anthropology at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. She has carried out extensive fieldwork in many Pacific Islands, especially Tonga, Hawai`i, and Rapa Nui, and is known for her work on materials collected on the voyages of Captain Cook (in museums around the world), and the United States Exploring Expedition (in the Smithsonian). She is interested in material culture and the intangible knowledge it holds, as well as the role of music, dance, poetry, and the visual arts in reflecting and  constructing social and cultural systems. She is working on several projects associated with barkcloth (textiles made from the inner bark of certain trees,) in museum collections and its present day resurgence as Pacific Art.