Prof. Abba Tijani, the Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), on Saturday inaugurated a new exhibition gallery and children’s play park at the National Museum of Unity, Ibadan.
The new museum exhibition was themed: “Our Cultural Heritage in Retrospect”.
The items in the gallery included: Nok Terracotta, Human Figure, Ife Head, Queen Idia Head, Crescent Bowl, Elephant Tusk, Benin Bronze Rooster, Ceremonial Swords, Ofo staff, Mama Head Dress and Human Figures.
Others were: Wooden Treasury Box, Nigerian Pre-colonial, Colonial and Post-Colonial cowries, Manila and Coins Currency, face masks stand, perforated pots, pot drums and blacksmithing.
Inaugurating the gallery, Tijani said it was an additional feather in the cap of the museum.
“The theme is apt as it’s instructive, directed at who we were in the past, what we have made of our glorious past, today and how we intend to forge a future that our generations would be proud of tomorrow,” he said.
Tijani said that cultural heritage played strong role in both economic and social lives.
He described Nigeria as “a society with abundant rich cultural heritage spread across the diverse ethnic nationalities.”
According to him, these diversities are what made us unique as a people and so should be cherished and protected.
He said that the role of the NCMM was the preservation of cultural and natural heritages and to use them to bring about unity, reconciliation and cohesion of the nation.
Tijani said the gallery guide was a compendium to tell the story of an institution that harmonises events and meteoric rise of how humanity had survived its environmental challenges with the role played by modern museums.
“Museums use their collections, exhibits as civic pieces, to develop the skills and confidence of members of the community, to address social issues by mirroring itself as an agent of conformity.
“The increased numbers of galleries and the display of selected objects are to depict a Nigerian cosmopolitan society of the Igbos, Yorubas and Hausas co-habiting as an entity.
“This exhibition seeks to honour, celebrate the ingenuity and artistry of past heroes.
“I recommend this erudite piece, a guide into the retrospective look of the exhibition, to all would-be viewers as a support to didactic appraisal, especially for scholarly and eyeful insight,” he said.
The NCMM director-general said that out of the 107 monuments being proposed to be made national ones, Oyo State has three among them, including Ado-Awoaye Suspended Lake and Mapo Hall.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to join the commission in the fight toward the returning of looted cultural artefacts to Nigeria.
In his remarks, Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, called on the NCMM to improve the standard of the National Museum in Ibadan.
“We have 169 tourist sites in the state and none has been listed as a national monument; we need to work together to ensure how some can be made national monuments,” Makinde said.
The governor, represented by Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, said that stakeholders could showcase the sites in the state to attract more visitors.
Also, the Director of NCMM, Mr Abdul-mohammed Gimba, said that the inauguration was successful because of Tijani’s hard work toward the development of the commission.
“Last year, we upgraded at least eight new galleries across the country and before the end of the year, we shall upgrade at least, nine more,” he said.
Commenting, the Chairman of the occasion, Prince Tunde Odunlade, said that museums help in building lives and people, thus connecting them to their forebears.
Odunlade, however, called on corporate bodies and individuals, to always support the museums in all ramifications.
He commended the museum for the wonderful work done on the new gallery.
Also, the ‘Most Gorgeous Girl in Nigeria’, 2022/2023, Miss Ruqayyah Adebayo, called on youths to take up the responsibility of protecting and preserving the country’s heritage.
Adebayo said, “Our heritage is ours to keep alive.”
The Curator, National Museum of Unity, Ibadan, Prince Sikiru Adedoyin, thanked God for the grace given to them to make the day a success.
Highlights of the event included: the tour of the gallery, decoration of past curators, schools’ art competition and presentation of award of Museum Ambassador to the Most Gorgeous Girl in Nigeria.
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