Museums are fascinating because they preserve and display visual evidence of past events. Buildings like these often serve as repositories for historical artifacts, including tools, sculptures, and materials used by previous generations. These museums are more than simply structures; they are tangible reminders of our ancestors’ identities, ways of life, and values they upheld.
According to legend, Hunter Baragbon started Nigeria’s museum tradition in 1945 when he opened the Esie Museum, the country’s first museum. This museum houses the world’s most incredible soapstone artwork and photography collection and is a popular tourist attraction in the country. Cities like Benin and Calabar in the south and Kaduna and Kano in the north are just a few of the many that are home to registered museums and galleries among Nigeria’s 36 states. Going to one of Lagos’s numerous museums is a great way to learn about the city’s rich culture and to remember its past.
This article will discuss the best museums in Nigeria worth visiting, whether you’re a tourist, a scholar, or just someone searching for a peaceful getaway.
National Museum, Onikan, Lagos
Nigeria’s oldest and most popular museum, the National Museum, can be found in the Onikan area of Lagos Island. It was established in 1957 to protect priceless artifacts from destruction. It houses an extensive collection of artwork, archaeological discoveries, and ethnographic displays, making it one of Nigeria’s many museums worth visiting.
Thus, General Murtala Muhammad’s Mercedes Benz Saloon Car is one of the exhibits at the museum. The bullet holes in the used car are a gruesome reminder of the murder of Murtala in 1976, but the car itself is in pristine condition.
The Jos Museum is another old museum in Nigeria. The Jos Museum was established in 1952 in the state capital of Jos, Plateau State. The museum houses numerous prehistoric works of art from Nigeria, including the Nok terracotta heads and other artifacts, which were created between 500 BC and 200 AD.
In addition, the Kano city walls, the mosque in Zaria, and a Tiv hamlet are all represented by life-size replicas in the Museum of Traditional Nigerian Architecture, located within the Jos Museum.
National War Museum, Umuahia
The National War Museum in Umuahia, Abia State, is a popular destination for visitors to Nigeria. This museum, founded in 1985, is home to various artifacts recovered from the Biafran War of Independence against the Nigerian military. Firearms, tanks, and planes are all examples of weapons that can be found here.
National Museum, Benin City
The Benin Museum is both an excellent and historic Nigerian cultural institution. The museum has been open since 1973 and can be found in the state capital of Benin City in Edo. Artifacts from the original Benin bronze statues in the museum bring back memories of the once-great Benin Empire. Historical artifacts made of terra cotta and cast iron are also on display.
Kaduna National Museum
This museum opened in 1975 and is home to rare and priceless artifacts from anthropology and archaeology. You can find the museum in Kaduna, the state capital of Kaduna, and it features bronze and terracotta statues. In addition, a traditional village of artisans is located on the museum grounds.
Old Residency Museum, Calabar
The Old Residency Museum in Calabar, the capital of Cross-Rivers, is another old museum in Nigeria that attracts visitors and tourists worldwide. This museum was supposedly built in the colonial era, in 1884. Specifically, it is in Calabar, the state capital of Cross River.
According to recorded history, the museum was once the colonial government’s nerve center. Artifacts from the Calabar slave trade, pre-Columbian artifacts, and other historical treasures can be seen here.
Esie Museum, Kwara State
The Esie Museum opened its doors to the public in Kwara State in 1945. It’s one of the oldest museums in the country, and it houses some truly incredible and fascinating artifacts. Visitors are always drawn to the museum’s stone statues, which are said to be among the largest in the world.
The Esie Museum houses both classical and contemporary exhibition halls. More than two thousand artifacts are reportedly on display at this museum. In addition to the historical stones, other artifacts have been preserved in the new exhibit. The museum celebrates monuments annually in April with a festival.
Badagry Heritage Museum
You can’t fully comprehend the history of Nigeria and Africa without visiting this museum, which has been open to the public since 1863 and is located in Badagry, Lagos. Many artifacts from the slave trade during the colonial era are on display at the museum, transporting visitors back in time to make a personal connection with our ancestors and gain a deeper appreciation for the liberties we enjoy today.
So, some historical displays and artifacts from the Civil War can be seen in Oron, Akwa Ibom. The bunker of the first leader of the Biafran Republic, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, is on display to tourists and academics. You can learn a lot about the background of the Nigerian-Biafran War and how it relates to the museum’s collection by visiting Oron.
The museum was constructed in 1959, making it older than the looting that occurred during the civil war, and it is now considered a part of the best museums in the country. In 1975, the Nigerian government finally rebuilt it; since then, it has attracted history buffs from all over.
Gidan Makama Museum, Kano
The Gidan Makama Museum is one of the oldest museums in Nigeria that is still open today. Located in Kano state, it is recognized as a national landmark. It dated back to the 15th century and was the palace of the Emir of Kano. Numerous masterpieces, sculpture collections, historical artifacts, etc., are housed there.
Traditional materials from the past, artifacts from the civil war, 19th-century Kano, and relics from the old city fortifications can all be seen in the 11 galleries off the main entrance hall.