A museum naturally is a symbol of attraction, unity, existence, beauty and an embodiment of historical and cultural appellation. The Onikan museum which was established in 1957 as a tool for preservation of African cultural heritage, her history and all that her glory brings, has now become the proverbial story of a fallen hero. The museum which was supposed to be alluring, captivating and attractive to her guests has become a redundant shadow of her old self.
For the one week that New Telegraph visited the Onikan Museum, it observed that the once glorious, giant standing museum seems to have lost her beauty and perhaps glory. Upon entrance into the Museum, an ancient smell of a near dilapidated building oozes out as a welcoming wave to a visitor. Although the essence and values are still intact judging by the historic artifacts on display in various rooms and show-glass inside the museum but truth is that the beauty and essence of these artifacts are covered with dust, cobwebs and immersed with ancient smell of historic relics of an ancient building. In, fact, it definitely has lost its perk and value as the whole environment was littered with dirt, and looks irritatingly unkempt, paints of the building peeling off the structure, thereby giving an unwelcoming sight. The interior of the museum housed lots of archaic elements that date back as far back as 20 years. New Telegraph observed that most of the artifacts that were present inside had stood for over two decades with no update on them. At the reception of the museum, staff were nonchalant with little or no concern for visitors around. There was no tour guide to take one around as expected of a museum.
According to observation, the Onikan Museum lacked proper and basic amenities needed to attract both local and international tourists and investors. There was also the problem of power outage, for the one week that New Telegraph frequented the museum, there was the issue of frequent power outage, some of the visitors who came, were groping around like blinded people with the torch on their phones during their visits, the rooms were virtually dark. One of the workers had to put on the generator whose power could not carry major appliances in the museum.
New Telegraph could not access all the records and history of the National Museum as they were not documented electronically but on paper. With the advent of technology, there was no provision of E-Library in the library unit. Ordinary, the E-library unit was to contain all information about the Museum, thereby making it easy for people to surf through and get all their information without any assistance.
New Telegraph also noticed that there was no proper ventilation, tourists both foreign and local resulted to manmade breeze and used any available flat and light object to fan themselves. The museum was not fully air-conditioned as it should be even with power on. All together in the showroom, there were only about 10 ceiling fans, thereby making the museum hot. One of the visitors Matilda Ammamoo, a 15 year old student said “this is my first time visiting the museum and I would say I’m not entirely impressed, the artifacts are actually great, I learnt a lot but during the course of the whole tour, it was dark at a point, the generator went off and there was heat and not more than five people can go at once, because it’s so cramped.”
Caroline Lucky, a 25 year old lady said “I visited this museum eight years ago and again today, I can say there’s little or no difference in the museum.”
She explained that in other advanced countries, tourism plays a major involvement in the country’s revenue and much focus is given to it as any other sector in the country. People travel as far as overseas to experience and witness people’s culture, when they hear how great and rich it is. “It is tragic that a site that houses The Giant Of Africa’s historic past should be in such a dire state without government doing anything to develop the museum to be a state of the art building. In the nearest future, The National Museum would be likened to the proverbial song of a fallen hero,” she said.
Mr. Okechukwu Okanlanwa the P.R.O who has been working in the museum for eight years said, “there is no institution without one constraint or the other, people should try not to look at only the outward appearance of the museum, but what it really portrays. There are changes being made already to the museum, the issue has been addressed and it’s a gradual process.”
Concerning the development of the museum and why it hasn’t developed, he explained that the museum is being sponsored by the government and the government is the overall head of the institution. It is what is decreed by the government that is final, according to him.
He added that, “one of the things we need to improve about this great institution is for the government to review policies and regulations concerning the museum in order for us to expand our services. It is believed that the Federal Government of Nigeria has ignored one of the major areas of the tourism sector and focused all on the petroleum field.
“The museum is one of the significant center for the country to portray her heritage and it is one of the first place any foreign tourist coming into the country for the first time would like to visit to know more about Nigeria and its past. More efforts should be pushed into the sector because the government has completely ignored it.
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