Nigerian National Museum

Coordinates: 6°26′40″N 3°24′12″E / 6.44444°N 3.40333°E / 6.44444; 3.40333
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nigerian National Museum
View of the museum's exterior
LocationOnikan, Lagos Island, city of Lagos
CollectionsNigerian art, including pieces of statuary and carvings and archaeological and ethnographic exhibits
FounderKenneth Murray

The Nigerian National Museum is a national museum of Nigeria, located in the city of Lagos. The museum has a notable collection of Nigerian art, including pieces of statuary, carvings also archaeological and ethnographic exhibits.[1] Of note is a terracotta human head known as the Jemaa Head (c. 900 to 200 BC), part of the Nok culture. The piece is named after Jema'a, the village where it was discovered.[2][3][4][5] The museum is located at Onikan, Lagos Island, Lagos State. The museum is administered by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.[6][7]


In July 1948, the first architectural sketches of the museum were submitted to a conference on museum policy in Nigeria.[8] The museum was founded in 1957 by the English archaeologist Kenneth Murray.[9][10][11][12][13] The main purpose of constructing this museum was to preserve different historical artifacts of Nigeria.[14][15] Kenneth Murray had collected several traditional masks from Cross River State, these masks were displayed in the museum.[16][17][18] During the first decade of the museum's existence, the British Museum gave the Nigerian National Museum two plaques and other artifacts.[19][20][21][22] In 2018, a virtual tour of the museum was added using an adapted version of Google Street View along with other tourist sites in Nigeria.[23]


The museum houses the collections of artifacts belonging to different cultures of the ethnic groups in Nigeria. The size of the collection is estimated at 47,000 objects,[24][25] made of different materials such as wood, ivory, metal and terracotta. The artifacts include masks, textiles, drums, dane guns and wooden figures.[26] Among the artifacts, in the Yoruba section, the museum includes Egungun costumes and clay pots.[27] The museum has a collection of statues dating from different periods of Nigeria's history.[28]

The museum also houses traditional musical instruments such as sansas, fiddles and flutes.[29] The museum also contains divination bowls and ancestral figures made of wood, including Mumuye figures, which are used by communities in Adamawa State as well as Ikengas wooden figures, which are part of the Igbo culture. Additionally, the museum also contains a collection of masks including Ekpo masks from Calabar and Gẹlẹdẹ wooden masks.[30]

The museum contains jewelry and crafts, as well as a collection of textiles including Akwete cloth and other textiles from the Okene, Bida and Western States areas of Nigeria.[31]

The museum has displayed works of art by Nigerian artists such as Nike Davies-Okundaye, Abiodun Olaku, Djakow Kassi, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Bolaji Ogunwo, Yusuf Durodola, Chinze Ojobo,[32] Nosa Iyobhabha, Duke Asidere,[33] Ben Enwonwu, Nathaniel Hodonu,[34] Northcote W. Thomas, Kelani Abass[35] and Elizabeth Ekpetorson.[36] In 2012, the museum presented an exhibition featuring artwork by artist Ndidi Dike.[37][38][39][40] In November 2019, the museum organized an exhibition with art pieces by German-Nigerian artist Ngozi Schommers.[41][42][43] The museum contains ancient crowns, Royal regalias, artifacts belonging to the Kingdom of Benin, cultural objects belonging to the Ibibio people, Igbo-Ukwu bronze artifacts, stone monoliths of the Oron culture[44] and terracottas belonging to the Nok culture.[45][46][47] The museum also contains photographs of the different presidents of the states of Nigeria.[48] In the textile section, there is a collection of batik fabrics.[49] The museum also has Ere figurines.,[24] photographs on the colonization of Nigeria[35] and exhibits related to the culture of Ifẹ, an ancient Yoruba city.[29]

The museum contains a variety of sculptures. Among these are the grave sculptures of the Dakakari people who inhabit Sokoto State. These types of sculptures are used in graves to commemorate the death of an important person such as a warrior, social leader or a chief. The museum also contains a sculpture of a Sukur woman in traditional dress from Adamawa State. At the entrance of the museum, also with a sculpture of a deity called Chukwu, of Igbo spirituality. The museum also houses stone sculptures of the Ekoi people.[34] The museum also has sculptures of animals that are used in different cultures of the ethnic groups of Nigeria.[50]

In popular culture[edit]

In her travel book, Looking for Transwonderland, writer Noo Saro-Wiwa visits the museum and describes its impact on her.[51]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nations Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Atwood, Roger. "The Nok of Nigeria". Archaeology. Archaeological Institute of America. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Nok culture | Iron Age culture | Britannica". Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  4. ^ "The Nok Culture of Central Nigeria". ResearchGate.
  5. ^ "Nigerian National Museum - MoMAA | African Modern Online Art Gallery & Lifestyle MoMAA | African Modern Online Art Gallery & Lifestyle Nigerian National Museum". MoMAA | African Modern Online Art Gallery & Lifestyle. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  6. ^ "National Museum and challenges to boosting tourism". Nigerian Tribune Online. 21 February 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  7. ^ "Iconic Collections For 70th Anniversary Of National Museum In Nigeria". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 26 September 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  8. ^ Silverman, Raymond; Abungu, George; Probst, Peter (30 August 2021). National Museums in Africa: Identity, History and Politics. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-000-42864-3.
  9. ^ Adio, Segun (12 February 2011). "History on display at the National Museum". National Mirror.
  10. ^ Robson, Emily (April 2010). "Featured Artist: Benedict (Ben) Chukwukadibia Enwonwu". University of Chichester. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  11. ^ "Art preservation for culture heritage". ResearchGate.
  12. ^ "Rehabilitating the National Museum". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  13. ^ IV, Editorial (22 February 2018). "National Museum and challenges of boosting tourism". Blueprint Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  14. ^ Brusius, Mirjam; Singh, Kavita (7 September 2017). Museum Storage and Meaning: Tales from the Crypt. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-65942-0.
  15. ^ "Celebrating Nigeria's 90 years of Museum movement". Vanguard News. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  16. ^ Nicklin, Keith (1974). "Nigerian Skin-Covered Masks". African Arts. 7 (3): 8–92. doi:10.2307/3334855. ISSN 0001-9933. JSTOR 3334855.
  17. ^ "The Kenneth Murray decade". ResearchGate.
  18. ^ Blier, Suzanne. "Africa's Cross River: Art of the Nigerian-Cameroon Border Redefined (1980)". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ "The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments Announce the Return of Three Works of Art to the Nigerian National Collections". Metropolitan Museum of Art. 9 June 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  20. ^ Stoilas, Helen (10 June 2021). "The Met will return three African art objects to Nigeria". CNN. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  21. ^ "British Museum Sold Benin Bronzes". Forbes. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  22. ^ "Nigeria: Metropolitan Museum of Art Returns Three Works of Art to Nigeria". 11 June 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  23. ^ Chiazor, Juliet (26 July 2018). "Google for Nigeria: Making the internet more useful for more people". Google. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  24. ^ a b Ojoye, Taiwo (28 May 2019). "How 47,000 artefacts are wasting away in ageing national museum". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  25. ^ "With 300 items on display, 47,000 in store, National Museum Lagos begs for attention". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 28 May 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  26. ^ Abiodun, Michael (2016). "Cultural Heritage Preservation Through the Preventive Conservation Methods in the National Museum in Lagos" (PDF). Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  27. ^ "National Museum | Lagos, Nigeria Attractions". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  28. ^ Wiseman, Blaine (1 August 2015). Nigeria. Weigl Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4896-3061-2.
  29. ^ a b Museum (Lagos), Nigeria National (1960). Guide to the Nigerian Museum, Lagos.
  30. ^ "Nigerian wooden sculptures and their preservation in the National Museum Lagos, Nigeria" (PDF). Anistoriton Journal. 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  31. ^ Okereke, Dominic (2012). Africa's Quiet Revolution Observed from Nigeria. Paragon Publishing. ISBN 978-1-908341-87-7.
  32. ^ "Unfinished Business art exhibition holds at National Museum, Lagos". Vanguard News. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  33. ^ Omokhapue, Paulina (20 September 2020). "SNA Lagos holds October rain exhibition". The Guardian Nigeria News. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  34. ^ a b "National Museum of Lagos: 8 Must-See Masterpieces". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  35. ^ a b "In Dialogue with History: A Review of an Exhibition by Kelani Abass & Northcote W. Thomas | By Roli O'tsemaye". The Sole Adventurer. 28 October 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  36. ^ "Ekpetorson's Different Shades Of Being opens in Lagos". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 13 June 2021. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  37. ^ "National Museum, Lagos at Onikan presents Unknown Pleasures & Competing Tendencies by Ndidi Dike". Art Agenda. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  38. ^ "Exhibiting Unknown Pleasures - P.M. News". Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  39. ^ "Dailytrust News, Sports and Business, Politics | Dailytrust". Daily Trust. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  40. ^ "Ndidi Dike's working through an impasse". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 15 August 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  41. ^ "Ngozi Schommers' 'the way we mask' at the National Museum in Lagos". The Sole Adventurer. 9 October 2019. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  42. ^ "About". Ngozi Schommers (in German). Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  43. ^ "Schommers' "The Way We Mask" opens in November". Vanguard News. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  44. ^ Oladumiye, Bankole; Adiji, Bolajoko (January 2013). "Nigerian Museum and Art Preservation". ResearchGate. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  45. ^ Onyeakagbu, Adaobi (1 July 2021). "A brief walk into the Nigerian National Museum". Pulse Nigeria. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  46. ^ "NOK Culture Central Nigeria". ResearchGate.
  47. ^ "Nigeria: Nok has more wonders yet for the world!". New African Magazine. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  48. ^ "Everything You need to know about National Museum Onikan, Lagos". TravelWaka. 2 April 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  49. ^ "National Museum Lagos Lagos State :: Nigeria Information & Guide". Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  50. ^ Silverman, Raymond; Abungu, George; Probst, Peter (31 August 2021). National Museums in Africa: Identity, History and Politics. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-000-42864-3.
  51. ^ "War & Peace: A Stranger at Home: An Essay on Noo Saro-Wiwa's Looking for Transwonderland - Panorama: The Journal of Travel, Place, and Nature: Panorama is a British lit journal/press/org revolutionising travel lit/visual art works". 21 December 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2023.

External links[edit]

Media related to Nigerian National Museum at Wikimedia Commons

6°26′40″N 3°24′12″E / 6.44444°N 3.40333°E / 6.44444; 3.40333