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Nigeria has a total of more than 30 museums and galleries, which are spread throughout the country and in particularly good supply in Benin City, Calabar, Kaduna, Kano and around Lagos Island (connected to the mainland by a series of bridges). Together, they help to preserve the culture and history of Nigeria.

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Several of these museums focus on specialist subjects, such as archaeology, history, art and transport. Visiting one of Nigeria’s many museums is the best way to really understand the country’s rich heritage and cultural traditions. This article is a two part article; in this first part, we will furnish you with some information about 4 (out of 9) of Nigeria’s most historic museums. The remaining five will be discussed in the part 2 of this article.

The following is an overview of these museums:

Benin City National Museum

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The Benin City National Museum is a national museum in Benin City, Nigeria. Located in the city centre on King’s Square. The museum has a significant number of artifacts related to the Benin Empire such as terracotta, bronze figures and cast iron pieces. It also has ancient art related to the early times.

Esiẹ Museum

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Esiẹ Museum is a museum in Esiẹ, Kwara State, Nigeria. In the sleepy Igbomina town of Esie, Irepodun LGA in Kwara State lays the first museum in Nigeria. The museum was established in 1945 to house one of the greatest treasures ever bequeathed to mankind, Esie Stone Images (Ere Esie). The museum was the first to be established in Nigeria when it opened in 1945. The museum once housed over one thousand tombstone figures or images representing human beings. Esie museum established in 1945 is located in Irepodun LGA of Kwara State. The museum is known for housing human-shaped stone figures. It is reputed to have the largest collection of soapstone images in the world. In modern times the Esie museum has been the center of religious activities and hosts a festival in the month of April every year.

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Gidan Makama Museum Kano

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Gidan Makama Museum Kano or Kano Museum is a museum in Kano, Nigeria. This building served as temporary palace of Kano before the current palace Gidan Rumfa was constructed in the 15th century. The museum has a significant collections of arts, crafts and items of historic interest related to the Kano area. Located in a 15th-century historical building, which is recognised as a National Monument by the Government of Nigeria. The museum is divided into 11 galleries, each with their own centre of focus. Galleries include the Zaure or the main entrance hall with displays of traditional materials, city walls and maps of Kano, the history of statehood, Kano in the 19th century, the Civil War, economy, industry and music.

An open space inside the museum acts as a performance stage for a Koroso dance and drama group.

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Jos Museum

Jos Museum is a museum in Jos, Nigeria. The museum was established in 1952 by Bernard Fagg and was originally the National Museum. It is an important centre of research into the prehistoric culture of Nigeria, and was recognized as one of the best in the country but it fell into ruin. The Pottery Hall in the museum has an exceptional collection of finely crafted pottery from all over Nigeria. The museum boasts some fine specimens of Nok terracotta heads and artifacts dating from between 500 BC to AD 200. It also incorporates the Museum of Traditional Nigerian Architecture with life-size replicas of a variety of buildings, from the walls of Kano and the Mosque at Zaria to a Tiv village. Articles of interest from colonial times relating to the railway and tin mining can also be found on display. A School for Museum Technicians is attached to the museum, established with the help of UNESCO. The Jos Museum is also located beside the zoo.




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This article was first published on 24th February 2020


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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