In 1985 Arne Skjølsvold, Heyerdahl’s long-time collaborator, was hired by the museum to build-up the Institute of Pacific Archaeology and Cultural History. The following year, Skjølsvold launched the archaeological investigation in Anakena, Easter Island, from 1986-88. The museum also supported long-time archaeological excavations in Tucume from 1988-92.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the Kon-Tiki Museum also supported linguistic and anthropological research in Western Polynesia. The museum also continued to launch archaeological fieldwork on Easter Island, Christmas Island, and the Galapagos.
Ingjerd Hoëm, the head of the Institute of Pacific Archaeology and Cultural History, launched a cross-disciplinary research project in collaboration with the University of Oslo, in 2001 to 2008 termed Identity Matters. Movements and Place. In 2009, the museum changed the name of its research department to Thor Heyerdahl’s Research Foundation. At the same time, a new policy increasing support for research done outside the museum came into effect.