In 1979 the Federal Government of Nigeria with decree 77 of 1979 established the National Commission for Museums and Monuments as a replacement for the Federal Antiquities Department to manage the collection, documentation, conservation and presentation of the National Cultural properties to the public for the purposes of Education, Enlightenment and Entertainment. Consequent upon the impact of Nigeria’s civil war, the Federal Government in its quest for lasting unity in the country created Museums of National Unity to serve as veritable instrument of cultural education through which peace and understanding among the various Nigerian Nationalities would be achieved. At the moment, the Museums of National Unity in Ibadan and Enugu have been completed, commissioned and opened to the public in 2002 and 2006 respectively. In like manner, Sites have been secured and construction work ongoing in Maiduguri and Sokoto. Presently the National Commission for Museums and Monuments manages and oversees forty-five museums and outlets spread across the country. These include museums in Abeokuta, Aba, Akure, Asaba, Benin, Calabar, Enugu, Esie, Ibadan, Igbo-Ukwu, Ile-Ife, Ilorin, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lafia, Lagos , Lokoja, Maiduguri, Markudi, Minna, Nok, Osogbo, Oyo, Oron, Owerri, Owo, Port-Harcourt, Sokoto, Umuahia, Uyo, Yola and the Institute of Archaeology and Museum Studies in Jos. There are also two UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely Sukur Cultural Landscape and Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove. NCMM is the representative of Nigeria at International Cultural bodies like the International Council of Museum (ICOM), the International Centre for the Study of the Restoration and Preservation of Cultural Properties (ICCROM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) the African Council on Museums (AFRICOM) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) among others.
THE RIVER-SIDE SHRINE AND SACRED GROVE OF OSUN AT OSOGBO, OSUN STATE Declared a National Monument on 5th August 1965. Together with the shrine, its grove and the surrounding land within a radius of 122m(400ft) from the Northern most corner of the shrine building. The shrine is set in a clearing in the midst of a beautiful grove with majestic trees. It was enlisted into the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list on 15th July 2005, as Nigeria’s second World Heritage Site under the title Cultural Landscape.
National Museum, JOS One of the oldest museums and the largest museum complex in Nigeria established in 1952. Its extensive grounds also accommodate a Zoological Garden (opened 1955), the Museum of Traditional Nigerian Architecture (MOTNA), established in 1983, the Centre for Traditional Earth Technology (CETECH), started in 1989/1990, and the Institute for Archaeology and Museum Studies (IAMS), established in 1963.
Ife Art (The Art of Ife) The origin of Ife art and civilization, which historians put between AD 1000 and 1400AD -11th to 15th centuries, still remains a subject of academic discourse. Nevertheless, Ife is famous for its naturalistic art culture.
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments is celebrating seventy years of the existence and growth of the museum as an institution in Nigeria. In the light of this celebration, the commission packaged the exhibition titled “The Nigerian museum at seventy- An Enduring legacy” the museum and her collections have gone through several incidences including war, theft, Illegal traffic, and yet the collection has grown from just a handful at inception to over fourty thousand objects in Lagos Museum alone. Museums generally focus on the collection in their possession, thereby making activities in the institution to revolve around the collection. The Nigerian museum in the light of this fact was instituted as a result of cultural objects which were found in different communities that form the entity called Nigeria. The collection of cultural objects in Nigeria dates far back to the inception of ancestor worship, traditional ruler’s royal collections, festival paraphernalia and home appliances. These objects were preserved traditionally from year to year. However, the idea of formal museums in Nigeria according to historical facts emerged during the colonial era. Museums consequently were established in Esie 1945, Jos 1952, Ife 1954, Lagos 1957, Oron 1958, Kano 1960, Owo 1968, Minna 1989 and subsequently in other cities in Nigeria. This exhibition portrays cultural objects collected by the “fathers” of the Nigerian museum during the seventy years of its existence. These “fathers” of Nigerian Museums are: KENNETH C. MURRAY, BERNARD FAGG, EKPO EYO, ADE OBAYEMI, YARO GELLA, ELUYEMI OMOTOSHO, JOSEPH EBOREIME, YUSUF A. USMAN. These “fathers” who were in command at different periods during the seventy years collected objects directly and indirectly. The accumulated objects are from various ethnic groupings yet when assembled they present common traits that can be instrumental to our national unity. Nigerian cultural heritage is diverse in nature, origin and cut across various ethnic groups. Artifacts come in various forms and these exhibits are tangible living cultures of the people. The common icons probably reflect our common ancestry in spite of today’s diverse ethnic expressions. These artifacts constitute valuable resources for cultural integration, harmony and peaceful co-existence amongst the peoples of Nigeria within and in the diaspora.