NCMM Partners Global Communities To Turn Around Musuems’ Misfortunes

The Director General National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof Abba Isa Tijani, says there is ongoing global partnership to set in motion unprecedented moves which have the tendency of introducing previously unimagined paradigm shifts in the affairs of cultural property ownership and management in the world.According to him, the German governments, federal and states are taking the lead in Europe in cementing the future of this relationship by agreeing to release numerous priceless antiquities belonging to Nigeria.The DG who disclosed this during the 2021 International Museum Day (IMD) in Jos, says several hundreds of Benin Bronzes part of the loot of 1897 are expected return starting in 2022.The 2021 International Museum Day, with the theme , ‘The Future of Museums: Recover and Imagine’, was co-hoseted by Mupun development and cultural organisation and the authorities of the Jos Museum.The DG however, stress the need for people to visit and enjoy museums, and to raise awareness about the challenges that museums face and that they can only survive with the support of their communites. “It came into being as one of the Resolutions of the Twelfth General Assembly of the International Council of Museums (COM) held tn Moscow in 1977. And since then, it has become a phenomenon.“Every year there is a different theme highlighted for the celebration. The theme reflects a particular preoccupation that is affecting the international museum community. The theme for 2021 is ‘The Future of Museums: Recover and Imagine’, this is inspired by the changes the world has experienced in the last year and urging people to reimagine the museums of the future, to respond to the issues we face in the present.”Here at the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), we reimagine a future of collaboration where we use assets of the past to fashion a new future. And to put this in play, we and our global partners have set in motion unprecedented moves which have the tendency of introducing previously unimagined paradigm shifts in the affairs of cultural property ownership and management in the world. In this wise, the German governments, federal and states are taking the lead in Europe in cementing the future of this relationship by agreeing to releasc numerous priceless antiquities belonging to Nigeria. These are several hundreds of Benin Bronzes part of the loot of 1897. The return is expected to start in 2022.A decade of rapprochement and diligent pursuit under the Benin Dialogue Group (BDG) to which the NCMM belongs is bringing its reward. Participating European nuseums and governments, particularly the German government, and at the local level the Edo State Government, the NCMM and the Royal Benin Palace are jointly setting up a Museum in the centre of Benin City to form a cultural hub with the Oba’s palace, the National Museum Benin and some other important heritage sites.”The Benin City of the future will become a major global tourist attraction in the mold of venice, Padua etc. The world renowned British architect, Sir David Adjaye was commissioned to develop this hub. His futuristic design imagines the 21st century Benin and incorporates thousands of years of Benin past. The NCMM as expected is playing the leading role in this reimagined future. And one day, we shall replicate this in other cultural centres like Ife, Kano, Igbo Ukwu etc.”Legacy Restoration Trust to which we and the major stakeholders above are par’ which we all instituted to bring about many of these changes, is already working towards establishing a world class conservation centre to house these culture property upon their return to Nigeria and before they are finally moved to the proposed museum. This will be a great blessing to the West Africa sub-region where such a conservation centre does not yet exist.“The NCMM has been achieving great success in its repatriation drive. It was recently in the news how Nigeria successfully argued her case and brought back a 600 years old Ife terracotta from the Netherlands. In March, the University of Aberdeen after a year of discussions agreed to return an important Benin bronze to Nigeria. A few weeks ago, an Ife Bronze, was brought back from Mexico. This month of May, we shall be arguing our case before an international mediation panel for the return of an Ife bronze head valued at Five Million Dollars. This Ife head was seized in London from a Belgian and is part of eight other important antiquities stolen in a burglary that happened in National Museum Jos in 1987. Success in this case may ultimately lead to the discovery and recovery of the other antiquities of the set stolen during that burglary episode.”We have also picked a date for the return of very important antiquities from the Metropolitan Museum in the United States. A decade ago, we argued for the return of a major Ife head brought to this museum by Gallery Walu of Switzerland. We were successful. This has led to further considerations of Nigerian issues culminating in the return of this and another antiquity as awaited this year.”The future is digital. We also conmect to the past with the future by imbibing practices that are taking root around the world but this utilizing the benefits of the technology to aid dissemination of Museum activities.”Towards this, the NCMMM museum like majour musuems in the world, have turned to virtual and arguement realities. This is using the internet and other technologies to bring the museum presence to your immediate environment. Now from the comfort of your homes, you can move round Nigerian museums. We have signed a pay-per-click MoU with Diasfund thereby you can have the use of digital images of Nigerian museum objects on Another MoU with Opinow Media permits you to take a walk of Nigerian museums in the comfort of your bedroom, And the MoU with DreamHives entails a 3D experience of Nigerian museums and heritage sites. Our nuseums and their stories are now constantly relayed to the world audience via the zoom platform conducted through by virtue of our agreement with Active Projectile Limited. These methods of reaching out will ot only sell Nigeria Museums to the whole world; they are for the time being means of minimizing physical visits to museums as a way of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.”Nevertheless, we still crave for a physical museum presence here in Abuja for Nigeria remains the only major country in the world without a National Museum in its capital city. We thus use the opportunity the event of today affords and the gathering of this galaxy of esteemed personalities to re-present this issue and seek that they recommit themselves to working towards giving the NCMM a stand-alone building to serve as national museum and offices for the NCMM.”On this note I will like to conclude that it is clear that certainly, the future is bright. The prospect of Nigerian museums playing their eternal role in propelling a tourism renaissance in Nigeria is certainly unfolding. And it is unfolding through the NCMM”.

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