Repositioning Nigerian museums for better attendance
By Taiye Olayemi
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) founded in 1979 is responsible for collecting, documenting, preserving and presenting national cultural assets to the public for the purposes of education, education and entertainment.
Over the years, he tried to create museums with a collection of objects belonging to cultures of different ethnic groups. Some of these artifacts include wood, ivory, metal, and terracotta.
Others include Egungun costumes, clay pots, masks, textiles, drums, Danish guns and wooden figurines with collections of statues from different periods of Nigerian history.
The museums also contain traditional musical instruments like sansas, fiddles and flutes, as well as divination bowls and ancestral wooden figures, like the Mumuye figures that are used by different communities.
Some of them host artworks by Nigerian artists such as Nike Davies-Okundaye, Abiodun Olaku, Djakow Kassi, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Bolaji Ogunwo, Yusuf Durodola, Nosa Iyobhabha, Duke Asidere, Ben Enwonwu, Nathaniel Hodonu, Northcote W. Thomas, Kelani Abass and Elizabeth Ekpetorson.
Some analysts claim that the CNMM has indeed tried to fulfill its mandate despite the limited resources at its disposal, while others, in particular those involved in tourism, believe that there is still a lot to be done to improve museum attendance. and generate income.
While celebrating International Museum Day last month, Professor Abba Tijani, chief executive of the NCMM, hinted at great prospects for museums when he said Nigeria would recover more than 1,500 stolen objects this year, on more than 5,000 stolen objects. from different parts of the country.
Tijani said the artifacts were expected from Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and other individual museums around the world.
According to him, upon the return of the artifacts, the NCMM will hold a series of exhibitions where they will be displayed for the general public to view.
But as Nigeria awaits the new shipment of artefacts believed to enrich its museums, stakeholders have continued to stress the need for adequate funding of the NCMM to improve the quality of museums and make them attractive to the general public.
They say strengthening museums has become imperative since many people visit them for research purposes, while many go for tourism and education.
One such stakeholder, Mr. Michael Balogun, Managing Director of Tour2Nigeria, wants the Federal Government to invest more in modernizing museums to adapt to virtual technology and argued reality.
According to Balogun, private museums across the country are properly managed as opposed to public museums.
He suggests that museums be contracted out to private operators who he says will manage them well, if the nation is to generate revenue from the facilities.
He particularly suggested that people with physical disabilities should be taken into account by acquiring Braille and other means by which they could learn.
“National museums are not exciting. If you consider the standard of most international museums, we lag behind. Only the private outfits seem well managed.
“My suggestions will be to outsource it to the private sector and bring it up to date in terms of using virtual technology and augmented reality,” he says.
Nigerian flautist, Omatshola Iseli popularly known as ‘Tee Mac’ believes it is criminal for the Nigerian government to neglect the country’s museums which house the country’s historical heritage.
Omatshola urged the Federal Ministry of Education to work with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to ensure that museums, which are a means of education, regain their value.
“It is a crime that the Nigerian government has neglected museums, our historical heritage.
“The Ministry of Education is particularly culpable; when I was a student in Switzerland, we regularly visited museums and even went to Ravenna, Rome and Paris to visit museums as part of our education.
“Museums house elements of our history; we must work with the awareness that our history is our wealth,” he says.
Another speaker, Efetobo Awhana, organizer of the annual Nigeria Travel Week, said the federal government should consider renovating most of the museums which he says are not attractive enough to attract tourists.
Awhana says that until this is done, the facilities will not generate the interest and revenue needed by the government.
“Our museums have enormous potential, given Nigeria’s rich history and diverse cultural heritage.
“Currently, our museums are very unattractive to tourists; most of them look like abandoned book shelves – damp and dusty – without any vibrancy.
“They need a serious renovation to at least make them presentable,” he said.
Awhana, however, commended the government’s efforts for the gradual return of looted Nigerian artifacts and urged the federal government to ensure that recovered artifacts are properly preserved.
“We have often shown a lack of appreciation for historical artifacts which are very valuable all over the world.
“We hope that with the publicity and global attention these repatriations are attracting, those who receive the artefacts will preserve them and do what is right in the interest of Nigeria,” he said.
For Ms. Bimbo Esho, Managing Director, Evergreen Musical Company to properly reposition museums for better revenue generation, museum staff members must be exposed to periodic training.
Esho says the federal government also needs to fund museums adequately so they can operate optimally and engage in media promotion of museums to drive traffic.
“Very often our artifacts are stolen and sold abroad because those who run the museums do not understand the need to organize our future.
“We need to train museum staff on the need to preserve these relics for future use. Museums also need proper funding and media promotion to attract public attention.
Mr Olugbenga Adebayo, Managing Director of Gadeshire Travels and Tours, for his part, wants all cultural ambassadors, curators and traditional leaders to work together on a master plan that will make museums attractive.
“Government at all levels must be prepared to come up with a master plan to establish at least one museum each, in Nigeria’s 774 local governments, apart from existing national museums.
“These local government museums will document various artifacts from the history and culture of the people of that locality.
“Our national museums must also be repositioned in terms of structures to adapt to contemporary needs.
“Our museums also need to be updated and improved in terms of proper documentation of objects and proper training given to staff.
“Where possible, materials can be translated into different languages for foreign visitors,” he said.
As stakeholders continue to come up with suggestions to make museums more viable, analysts have urged the government to come up with strategies that will make the facilities more attractive given their socio-economic relevance to Nigeria and Nigerians. (NAN Features)
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