Botanical Gardens & Gauguin Museum, Tahiti
Even before we arrived in Tahiti, I was looking forward to seeing the museum. My boyfriend and I are big fans of artwork by Dali, Chagall, Picasso & many others. I hoped we would see paintings by Paul Gauguin here. It turned out, the museum was closed. It appeared that everything was gone. The property was in disarray. We spoke to a few people about the museum and their opinion was that all the artwork had gone to France. So, disappointing. Not sure why the signs have not been taken down or that I could read anywhere that this place was closed. Anyway, I thought I should post a tip so others are not disappointed like I was.
The painter spent many years here and this is where he perfected the colorful style that made him and the islands famous. All the paintings here are reproductions. Also don't miss the great collection of Tiki's on the grounds.
Be forwarned that this is not a museum filled with original paintings of Paul Gauguin. They are all located in much larger museums around the world. This museum is a memorial to the life of French artists, Paul Gauguin. He lived in the Mataiea district in the early 1890s. The museum has some minor paintings and some of his sculptures and carvings. There is a good gift shop, which sells reproductions.
Daily 9am-5pm. Admission 600CFP adults, 250CFP children.
I am the only one to brave the botanical gardens in the pouring rain. It is raining so hard it is coming through the umbrella, and the walkways are covered by two inches of water. I don't see anybody else in the gardens at all. It's a beautiful place with a good selection of traopical plants. I am very wet by the time I get back to the bus.
Gaugin left Europe to "steep himself in virgin nature and to see no one but savages" in Tahiti in 1891, believing it to still be an unspoilt paradise. With the intention of painting enough pictures to hold an exhibition which would make him famous, he left behind his wife Mette and their five children.
Living in a straw hut far from Papeete with a 13 year old "wife", Gaugin managed to finish 68 paintings whcih he returned to France with in 1893, but his exhibition failed to establish him as a recognised artist. After falling out with his wife, being beaten up by a gang of sailors and catching syphelis from a prostitute, Gaugin returned to Tahiti where he lived in poverty for a number of years.
Gaugin moved to the Marquesas after getting a commision from a Paris art dealer where he dies after living a wild life with another 14 year old "wife" and taking copious amounts of morphine for his pain.
My personal impression of the museum is one of disappointment. It is well laid out with covered walkways between buildings but not much on show.
Stroll through the 137 hectares of tropical gardens, streams and water lilly ponds. You will see hundreds of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers gathered from tropical regions throughout the world by Smith, who was an American physics teacher who escaped to the South Seas in 1919 and created his onw Garden of Eden in Tahiti.
The most impressive part of the park is a natural forest of Tahitian mape trees, with their convoluted roots above the ground.
The garden is located next to the Gauguin Museum.
Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Entry is 500 CFP.
The massive garden is laced with footpaths that wend their way through acres of well-tended palms, hibiscus, elephant ears, bamboo, bananas and many other species.