Some stakeholders in Tourism and Culture on Saturday called on the Federal Government to resuscitate the nation’s museums across the 34 states of the Federation to keep pace with their international counterparts.
The stakeholders told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos that museums across the world are the first point of call for every tourist and should be well-maintained to attract tourists.
According to them, the nation’s museums are not properly taken care of due to the fact that they were not properly funded by the Federal Government.
NAN reports that the International (IMD) Museum Day is held on May 18 of every year, and coordinated by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
The Day has been celebrated annually since 1977. And the 2019 edition has the theme: “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition”.
The theme for the 2019 Edition is meant to focus on the new roles of museums as active actors in their communities.
However, the general objective of the IMD is to raise awareness on the fact that museums are an important means of cultural exchange and enrichment and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among people.
Mr Ikechi Uko, Organiser, AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market, said though some countries in the world were not getting it right in terms of maintaining the museum but Nigeria ought to write a different story over its museums.
Uko said that since museums are the first point of call for every tourist, there was great need for the nation’s museums to be revitalised, adding that it would create a lasting impression in the minds of tourists.
He urged the Federal Government to adequately fund the museums across the country, saying that curators knew what to do to ensure museums attract visitors but lacked the financial backing to do it.
“Our museums must be renovated to attract both local and international tourists; the best education any child can have is from the museum, it is the place where they can see all the historical knowledge gained in their schools.
“The environment should be made conducive for them to learn, the museum houses very vital aspect of our history, they should be guarded jealously.
“The only museum I am proud of is the one at Calabar, it is state-owned and of world-class standard, just like the ones we have in Ethiopia, Nairobi and other developed countries,
“The Federal Government should rescue our museums.
“The museum is usually part of the itinerary for most tourists visiting a country but in Nigeria, it is not so. Our museums are not part of tourists’ itinerary because they are not well-maintained to attract tourists,’’ Uko said.
Uko urged the museum management to ensure replicas of most of the nation’s artefacts carted away to other countries were made and kept in museums for the benefit of Nigerian students.
Also, Mr Jossy Ajiboye, a foremost Nigerian Cartoonist and Artist, said it was disheartening to see that most of the nation’s museums could not compete with those of the international ones, considering the nation’s diverse and rich culture.
Ajiboye, who witnessed the tenure of late Prof. Ekpo Eyo, as the first Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) (1979-1986), said the nation’s museums had gone moribund.
He said that during Eyo’s tenure, the museums were attractive, due to the museum kitchen and trees planted around the museums for proper ventilation, making it conducive for people to sit around.
The cartoonist urged the museum management to resuscitate the museum kitchen at Onikan National Museum, Lagos,, saying that it used to attract a lot of tourists to the museum.
He added that the major point of attraction was the access tourists had to varieties of African local dishes.
Ajiboye urged the Federal Government to ensure that museums across the country are properly funded and made to return back to the way they used to be.
“Each time I go to Onikan museum, I return home very sad because I know what the place looked like during Eyo’s administration when people will want to go there just to eat from the different African delicacies strategically made available.
“Then, you will find couples relaxing after their daily work and they don’t stop there, they move ahead to see what we have in the museum too,” he said.
On her part, Mrs Patty Chidiac-Mastrogiannis, Curator, Alexis Galleries, urged the Federal Government to put the visually impaired’s needs into consideration when trying to upgrade the museum.
Chidiac-Mastrogiannis appealed to government to get brailles, hearing-aid amplifiers and other learning aids for visually-impaired persons at the nation’s museums.
According to her, this is the norm in developed countries as these class of physically-challenged persons will benefit from the historical knowledge the museum offers when such facilities are made available.
“The deaf and dumb have been deprived of the knowledge of the nation’s history, heritage sites and culture when they do not have access to adequate facilities in the museum.
“I am drawing the attention of the government to the plights of these people, they should not be left out in trying to acquire knowledge about the history and culture of their country,’’ the curator said.