Hiva Oa — The Isle of Artists
Hiva Oa in the Marquesas is the final resting place for two world-renowned artists. Aside from the islands staggering beauty and well-preserved Tiki Totems they are the isle’s sole claim to fame. Paul Gaugin, the painter, and Jacques Brel, the Jazz musician both called the island home for the latter portion of their lives. They are both buried on the island and each has their own museum (on the same property).
A great diversion in Atuona, which is a sleepy little town with very few activities on offer, for an hour or two, don’t miss visiting these museums.
The Gaugin museum is not large, but it offers a nice walk through of the artist’s style as it developed through the years. There are no original pieces of artwork in the museum. A replica of Gaugin’s house stands on the original site just outside of the museum proper. This museum is best visited with a French Speaker or art lover. English-translation placards are not always available and are very short on information.
Just next to the Gaugin compound stands a large Hangar showcasing the airplane of Jacques Brel. The musician’s jazz plays in the place, giving ambiance to the beautifully restored plane and small collection of posters and paraphernalia from the days of the artist’s fame. Brel is beloved on Hiva Oa and his plane a famous fixture as he used it, and his own resources, to fly locals in medical need to the nearest hospital.
Both artist are buried in Hiva Oa’s hillside cemetery.