12 Top museums in Nigeria: location, year of establishment, history

12 Top museums in Nigeria: location, year of establishment, history

Numerous museums in Nigeria have helped preserve numerous elements of the country's rich history, diverse culture, and traditions. These museums are spread across the country and vary in size, artefacts, and years of establishment. These museums form a significant part of tourist attractions in the country.

Top museums in Nigeria
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Source: UGC

The history of museums in Nigeria dates to the colonial era when the first museum was established and documented as one. While these establishments can be found in almost every Nigerian state, a sizeable portion is concentrated in Lagos, Benin, and Kaduna.

The top museums in Nigeria

What are the names of museums in Nigeria? Here is a look at the 12 top Nigerian museums in 2022.

1. Nigerian National Museum, Lagos

  • Location: Onikan, Lagos Island, city of Lagos
  • Year of establishment: 1957
  • Address: Onikan Rd, Ikoyi 102273, Lagos, Nigeria
  • Phone: +234 1 263 6005

This museum was founded in 1957 and is home to a rich collection of art, archaeological excavations and exhibits of ethnography. The Nigerian National Museum is located in the city of Lagos.

It is renowned for its enviable collection of ancient Nigerian art, including pieces of statuary, carvings, and archaeological exhibits. One of the most notable items in the the establishment is a terracotta human head known as the Jemaa Head, which was derived from the Nok people.

2. JOS Museum and Zoo

How many museums are in Nigeria?
Archeological remains on display. Photo: pexels.com, @Pixabay
Source: UGC
  • Location: Jos, Nigeria
  • Year of establishment: 1952
  • Address: 1 Museum St, 930105, Jos, Nigeria

This institution was established in 1952. Visitors learn a lot about the prehistoric period in Nigeria. The Jos Museum has exhibits dating back to 500 B.C. One also gets to enjoy the beauty of finely crafted ceramic products. There are also exhibitions with mining materials preserved from old times.

3. National War Museum

  • Location: Umuahia
  • Year of establishment: 1985
  • Address: 440236, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria
  • Phone: +234 803 592 7567

This one was established in 1985 and nominated as one of the seven wonders for tourists in Nigeria. This majestic place is situated in the Abia State. It displays galleries dedicated to the Civil War and the armed forces. There are many Nigerian weapons and tools on display that are connected to the Biafran War and other clashes.

There are numerous war items to see, including bombs and other items used by these militants at the time. These exhibits serve as reminders of the evils of war. Visitors certainly feel the impact of war on Nigeria's reputation in the world and the lives of its people.

4. National Museum, Benin City

  • Location: Benin City
  • Year of establishment: 1973
  • Address: Ring Rd, Avbiama 300102, Benin City

This place will be easy to find, as it is in the centre of Benin City. King's square, to be precise. The museum was founded in 1973. Here one can see original works that evoke genuine admiration, such as bronze sculptures, terracotta products and cast iron reminiscent of the times of the ancient Benin Empire.

5. National Museum, Kaduna

types of museums in Nigeria
Artefacts in a modern gallery. Photo: pexels.com, @Shvets Anna
Source: UGC
  • Location: Kaduna
  • Year of establishment: 1975
  • Address: Ali Akilu Road, City Centre 800283, Kaduna
  • Phone: +234 803 330 3587

The institution was established in 1975. Here you can see interesting ethnographic and archaeological artefacts, such as figurines made of bronze and terracotta. The North Central State Government donated the building on which the establishment is built. The Kaduna Museum contains a substantial collection of archaeological and ethnographic crafts.

It is well-known for its live crafts section in which traditional craftsmen and women can be observed making traditional crafts.

6. Calabar Old Residency Museum

  • Location: Calabar
  • Year of establishment: 1884
  • Address: 540281, Calabar, Nigeria

This institution has a very interesting story. The one-storey building was built in 1884. The fascinating fact is that it was not even built in Nigeria. Several parts were sent to Nigeria through Morocco from Scotland. Initially, the premises served as the headquarters of the administration of colonial authorities.

Here, visitors find an abundance of historical knowledge about the colonial and pre-colonial times in Nigeria. This establishment also includes relics of the slave trade era.

7. Esie Museum

  • Location: Kwara State
  • Year of establishment: 1945
  • Address: 251104, Esie, Nigeria

The stone figures in this establishment certainly capture the attention of guests. The collection is widely regarded as the largest in the world.

The establishment has both ancient and modern galleries, with the total number of artefacts on display being approximately 2,000. The museum once housed over a thousand tombstone figures or images representing human beings. It is also reputed to have the largest collection of soapstone carvings in the world.

8. Gidan Makama Museum

  • Location: Kano
  • Year of establishment: 15th century
  • Address: Emir Palace Rd, Wudilawa 700103, Kano

The building in which the museum is located was built in the 15th century. After the British took over at the beginning of the last century, the building served as the office of colonial administration. Then it was divided into three parts: a museum, a school, and an administration office.

Here visitors find 11 galleries with exhibits that depict the culture and history of Kano. Visitors learn a lot about architecture, the period of civil war, religion and music. Kano itself is the oldest city in the territory of West Africa.

A lot of attention is drawn to the architectural design of the building. At the exhibitions, one can see photographic documents of the city and ethnographic materials of the Hausa people.

9. Badagry Heritage Museum

What are the names of museums in Nigeria?
Art pieces carved from stone. Photo: pexels.com, @Judit Agusti Aranda
Source: UGC
  • Location: Badagry
  • Year of establishment: 1863
  • Address: Lander Rd103101, Badagry

The Badagry Heritage Museum is housed in the former district officer's office that was constructed in 1863. The establishment attempts to highlight the injustice and horror of the transatlantic slave trade whilst also exhibiting the rich histories and cultures of Africa.

The one-storey building was erected in 1863 and houses eight galleries whose names correspond to the different periods of the slave trade.

10. Oron Museum

  • Location: Calabar
  • Year of establishment: 1958
  • Address: Oron, Calabar, Akwa-Ibom

This one was established in 1958 to accommodate eight hundred known ancestral figures of the Oron people, which are believed to be among the oldest and finest surviving wood carvings in Africa. During the war, the museum was plundered and did not fulfil its cultural function for a while.

The institution was then rebuilt in 1975. Today one can see restored figures of wood which serve as reminders of the culture of the local population, artisans' products, and ethnographic finds.

11. Owo Museum

  • Location: Owo
  • Year of establishment: 1968
  • Address: 12501, Owo Town, Endo

Owo Museum is an establishment in Owo, Nigeria. The museum was built in 1968 to accommodate the antiquities which were formerly in the Olowo Palace. The Owo site was first excavated in 1969-1971 under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of the Government of Nigeria.

12. Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art

  • Location: Lagos
  • Year of establishment: 2018
  • Address: 105101, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria

This is a contemporary art museum located in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria. The building was created by a Yoruba prince of Abeokuta named Yemisi Shyllon. He collected over 50,000 photographs and 7,000 pieces of art and used them as the museum's first exhibits.

The establishment also contains works of art by artists from other African countries, such as Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, and Togo. The Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art was designed by a Spanish-Nigerian architect named Jesse Castellote.

How many museums are in Nigeria?

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.

What is the biggest museum in Nigeria?

The Nigerian National Museum in Lagos is the biggest one in Nigeria. It has a notable collection of Nigerian art, including pieces of statuary, carvings also archaeological and ethnographic exhibits.

Which type of museum is popular in Nigeria?

history of museums in Nigeria
A painting inside an art gallery. Photo: pexels.com, @Romka
Source: UGC

The most popular ones are those with elements related to the country's history and heritage.

Where is the Nigerian national museum found?

The main one is in Lagos, with others in Kaduna and Benin City.

Which are the major museums in Nigeria?

The main ones are the Nigerian National Museum, Lagos, the National War Museum, and the Jos Museum and Zoo.

Which was the first museum in Nigeria?

The Esie Museum is considered the first Nigerian museum. It was established in 1945. While other buildings had existed before that, they had not become museums at the time.

What are the types of museums in Nigeria?

Museums are classified into five basic types, general, natural history and natural science, science and technology, history, and art.

There are numerous museums in Nigeria. These have exhibits touching on natural history, science, art, and natural science. These museums are spread across the country, with some cities having more museums than others.

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