A round table was held recently in Lagos on new directions for public museums and private collections and it was an opportunity for some art lovers to express their dissatisfaction with the sustained practice of the conservation of the arts and artifacts in our public museums.
Being an initiative of the German cultural organization, Goethe Institut, Lagos and SMO Contemporary Art, the special panel discussion had as its theme, “Public museums versus private collections: synergy or competition? »
Moderated by Director, SMO Contemporary Art, Nneoma Ilogu, the session was held at Esther’s Revenge, Freedom Park Lagos. In his introductory remarks, Ilogu acknowledged the museum’s function for educational purposes while offering statistics on the number of private museums in the US, UK and South Korea to provide perspective on global economic relevance. museums.
In his submission, the Obi of Onitsha and Founder of the Chimedie Museum, His Majesty, Nnameka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, observed that funding plays an important role in the status of a museum, which can grow from a private entity to a public entity.
While commenting on permanent collections as archives of knowledge, Director of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, South Africa and Founder of the LagosPhoto Festival, Azu Nwabogu, underscored the need for museums to offer genuine cultural and expressed optimism about the future of collaborations between public and private museums.
Regarding the repatriation of Beninese arts, Nwabogu was of the opinion that the works should be “returned with interest”.
Edith Ekunke, an official with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria, extolled the priceless collections of public museums, adding that with the artefacts, Nigeria can “interpret the past, in conjunction with the present and postulate the to come up”. She later criticized the public for the lack of a website or social media presence for the National Museum.
For the collector and philanthropist, Dr. Adhiambo Odaga, public museums are largely underfunded to the detriment of the state. She observed that many are unaware of the economic value the museum has despite its importance in telling real African stories.