By Tajudeen Sowole
It was a gathering to celebrate the past, creativity and supporters of Nigeria museum system, as the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) joined the rest of the world in marking the International Museum Day (IMD) 2013.
Celebrated across the world in the second, through third week in the month of May, courtesy of International Council of Museums (ICOM) since 1977, the 2013 edition, according to the world body has as theme, Museums (Memory + Creativity) = Social Change.
At the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos, NCMM used the occasion to appreciate key supporters of the museum by giving them awards.
The curator of the Onikan Museum, Mrs. Edith Ekunke opened the last day of the two-day activities by urging guests to see the IMD as a period to strengthen “cooperation and work together” in promoting the value of museums.
In his address, the Director-General of NCMM, Mallam Abdallah Usman stated that the theme “dynamically captures several concepts that are essential in defining a museum and its universality”. Explaining what he noted as “mathematical equation” content of the theme, Yusuf described museum as “the store house of the memory of the society encapsulated in the objects”.
Curator at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos, Mrs. Edith Ekunke
Ahead of the celebration, ICOM had mentioned the rich global heritage, which museums display and protect, saying there was a link with “inventiveness and vitality”.
It was noted that last year the IMD recorded its largest participation ever across the world with “almost 32,000 museums hosting events in more than 129 countries”.
Nigeria has contributed immensely to the increasing awareness in education value of keeping memory, as indicated by some of its activities in the past few years that are gradually returning museum visit-culture among the populace. Regular exhibitions organised after returns of loaned artefacts for international shows abroad as well as renovations of the galleries, courtesy of the Ford Foundation’s support, among other activities were clear indications that the good old days of museum visiting-culture are returning.
Among such activities in the last few years were the exhibition, Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria; the 200th year anniversary of Citi Bank, under the theme Celebrating Our Past and Defining Our Future, which attracted the young and the old to the Onikan Museum; the exhibition Nigerian Art in the Cycle of Life, which opened the newly renovated gallery, courtesy of Ford Foundation.
Also, outside Lagos, in 2011, the NCMM opened the National Museum, Owerri, Imo State, with an exhibition entitled: Igbo Household (Ezi na ulo Ndi-Igbo), to celebrate Igbo east of the Niger.
Through his representative at the 2013 IMD, Rosemary Bodam, the D-G, NCMM recalled that through the platform of international cooperation, the Nigeria museum authority has “repatriated over 60 stolen Nigerian cultural objects from France, Canada, South Africa, U.S., and Switzerland”. He also disclosed that “at the moment, we are in the process of restituting and recovering more from France and the U.S.”.
Yusuf also used the occasion of the IMD to remind non-government museums to regularise their activities with the NCMM. He listed the functions of the NCMM as contained in Decree No 17 of 1979 – currently an Act of Parliament, CAP 242 of 2000. The reminder, he stated was necessary, disclosing that some museums were operating outside government’s approval.
|Bruce Onobrakpeya, Chief Frank Okonta, Mr. and Mrs. Sammy Olagbaju|
Individuals and groups recognised as ‘friends of the museum’ and given awards were former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyanoku; master printmaker, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya; former Chairman of Eco Bank and founder, Omoba Oladele Odimayo Arts Foundation, Omooba Odimayo; President of Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN), Chief Frank Okonta; Chairman, Visual Arts Society of Nigeria (VASON), Sammy Olagbaju and Vice Chairman of VASON, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi.
Others were Founder, Omooba Yemisi Adedoying Shyllon Foundation Art Foundation, Engr Yemisi Shyllon; The Erelu of Lagos, Chief Erelu, Abiola Dosumu; Innocent Chukwuma, Representative of Ford Foundation in West Africa; printmaker and culture activist, Nike Davies Okundaye; Managing Director, Terra Kulture, Bolanle Austen-Peters; Senior Special Adviser to Lagos State Government on Leisure and Hotel and the coordinator, Lafgos Stae Junior Carnival, Aduke Gomez; CEO, Mydrim Gallery, Sinmidele Ogunsanya; sponsor of Children Day Cooking Competition, Iyabo Lawani; artist, Ndidi Dike and Total Nigeria Plc.
Also posthumously, Ben Enwonwu was given award as a great supporter of the museum. Enwonwu donated one of the popular themes of his art, in bronze sculpture, Anyanwu, currently at the entrance of the Onikan Museum.
On the sub-theme of this year’s IMD, Museum as a Mirror of our Society, the guest speaker and curator of Lagos State University Museum, Gbaja Kolawole touched on the role of museums in linking people with their roots and guiding the future.
Kolawole noted, “Museum assists us to trace our roots and know where we are going”, stressing that wherever there was a museum “social change is guaranteed”. Kolawole, a former staff of National Museum, Onikan before moving to LASU, urged government and individuals to “ensure the preservation of our cultural objects”.
Winners of the International Museum Day Art Competition for Secondary Schools in Lagos.
For the awardees, Onobrakpeya who spoke on behalf of the recipients argued that aside being supportive of the museum, “we have all tapped from the museum”. In confirming Onobrakpeya’s assertion, Gbadamosi recalled that the input of late director of museum, Ekpo Eyo inspired him to be a collector.
Among several youth programmes of NCMM aimed at getting the young ones to be involved in museum culture was the painting competition for secondary schools. Winners of the 2013 edition were first, Princeton College, Surulere; second, Isolog College, Ojodu and third, Aunty Ayo International College, Ikoyi, Lagos.