The exhibition celebrates the founding of the Royal Academy and the launch of Captain James Cook’s first Endeavour expedition to the Pacific, both in 1768.
A touch of the Cook Islands welcomes visitors to the exhibition, with a massive banner featuring a female tiki attributed to Aitutaki hanging outside the museum.
The tiki itself is on loan to the London exhibition from the Five Continents Museum in Munich, Germany.
According to Five Continents Museum curator Michaela Appel: “The figure is part of a collection of 48 artefacts from Polynesia and elsewhere which Johann Georg Wagler (1800–1832), a German herpetologist, who worked for the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences found in London in June 1825. These objects were finally acquired by King Ludwig I. of Bavaria for 400 guilders in July 1827.”
While visiting the exhibition, which features 200 pieces, Markle was given a Maori performance by the group Ngati Ranana.
Among those at the exhibition opening was Ministry of Culture secretary Anthony Turua on behalf of the Cook Islands government.
Markle and husband Prince Harry will travel to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga in October for their first official overseas tour since their May wedding this year.
Entry to the exhibition is free for New Zealand and Pacific Island passport holders and will run until December 10.