Adrienne L. Kaeppler

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Adrienne L. Kaeppler
Born1935 (age 83–84)
OccupationCurator of Oceanic Ethnology at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution.
Known forResearch on Tonga and Captain Cook

Adrienne Lois Kaeppler (born 1935) is an American anthropologist, curator of Oceanic Ethnology at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.[1] Since 2005, she has been President of the International Council on Traditional Music.[2] Her research focuses on the interrelationships between social structure and the arts, including dance, music, and the visual arts, especially in Tonga and Hawaii.[3] She is considered to be an expert on Tongan dance, and the voyages of the 18th-century explorer James Cook.


Her research focuses on material culture and the visual and performing arts in their cultural contexts, including traditional social and political structures and modern cultural identity.

Kaeppler attended the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and received her Masters and PhD from the University of Hawaii. In the 1970s, she was an anthropologist at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii. She has taught anthropology, ethnomusicology, anthropology of dance, and art history at the University of Hawaii;[4] the University of Maryland, College Park; the Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland; Johns Hopkins University; and the University of California, Los Angeles. She was also a member of the State Council on Hawaiian Heritage. In 1998, she worked in Tonga at the Tongan National Museum, setting up a special exhibition on the 80th birthday of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV.[5] In 2004, she was vice-president of the International Council for Traditional Music, and she was elected as President in 2005, taking over from Krister Malm.[6] She is currently curator and anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.[7]


In 1978, Kaeppler was honored by the YWCA as a leading female scientist whose work increased the understanding of native cultures.[8]

Kaeppler was also lauded for the book James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific (published in 2009). The work was recognized with the 2010 First International Tribal Art Book Prize, organized by Tribal Art magazine in partnership with Sotheby's Paris Headquarters[9] And in April 2010, it was named Book of the Month by Hodern House in Australia.[10]

In 2010, Kaeppler delivered a Smithsonian Secretary's Distinguished Research Lecture Award, which "recognizes a scholar’s sustained achievement in research, longstanding investment in the Smithsonian, and outstanding contribution to a field, as well as his or her ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience."[11]

Selected writing[edit]

  • "The structure of Tongan dance (doctoral dissertation)". Honolulu: Anthropology Department, University of Hawaii. 1967. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • "Tongan dance: a study in cultural change". Ethnomusicology. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press; Society of Ethnomusicology. 14 (2): 266–277. 1971. doi:10.2307/849801.
  • "Aesthetics of Tongan Dance". Ethnomusicology. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University. 15 (2): 175–185. 1971. doi:10.2307/850464.
  • "Cook Voyage Provenance of the 'Artificial Curiosities' of Bullock's Museum". Man. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 9 (1): 68–92. March 1974. doi:10.2307/2800037.
  • ""L'Aigle" and HMS "Blonde": The Use of History in the Study of Ethnography". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaii Historical Society. 12: 28–44. 1978. hdl:10524/620.
  • Poetry in Motion: Studies in Tongan Dance, 1993
  • Hula Pahu. Bishop Museum Press. 1994. ISBN 978-0-930897-55-0.
  • Polynesian and Micronesian sections of Oceanic Art, published in French, German, and English, 1993–1997
  • From the Stone Age to the Space Age in 200 Years: Tongan Art and Society on the Eve of the Millennium, 1999
  • "Dance and the concept of style". 2001 Yearbook for Traditional Music. Los Angeles: International Council for Traditional Music. 33: 49–63. 2001. doi:10.2307/1519630.
  • The Pacific Arts of Polynesia and Micronesia, Oxford University Press, 2008
  • Fleck, Robert (2009). James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific. Thames & Hudson Ltd. ISBN 978-0-500-51516-7.
  • Polynesia: The Mark and Carolyn Blackburn Collection of Polynesian Art. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaiʻi Press. 2010. ISBN 978-1-883-52838-6.
  • Holophusicon--the Leverian Museum : an eighteenth-century English institution of science, curiosity, and art. Altenstadt, Germany Honolulu, HI: ZKF Publishers Distributed in the United States by Bishop Museum Press. 2011. ISBN 3-9811620-4-8.



  1. ^ Miller, Robert (December 28, 2001). "Easter Island". The News-Times.
  2. ^ Kaeppler, Adrienne L.; Dunin, Elsie Ivancich, eds. (2007). Dance structures: Perspectives on the analysis of human movement. Budapest: Akademiai Kiado. ISBN 978-963-05-8542-2.
  3. ^ Sperlich, Tobias (2006). "Embodied inter-cultural dialogues: The biography of a Samoan necklace in Cologne" (pdf). Journal of the Polynesian Society.
  4. ^ Kriegsman, Alan (September 22, 1979). "The Lure and Harmony of the Hula". Washington Post.
  5. ^ Arcayna, Nancy (October 24, 2010). "Book celebrates art of Polynesia". Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  6. ^ Giurchescu, Anca (2006). "Report and projects (2005–2006)". International Council for Traditional Music. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  7. ^ "Regional meeting on the convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage" (PDF). Kazan: UNESCO. December 2004.
  8. ^ "Leader Luncheon Honorees 1977–1979". YWCA. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  9. ^ "James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific". Pacific Arts Association. December 23, 2010. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  10. ^ "Anthropolog: Awards (page 6)" (pdf). Anthropolog. Smithsonian Institution. Spring 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  11. ^ "Smithsonian Department of Anthropology". Archived from the original on 2 February 2011. Retrieved December 23, 2010.