Museums and Galleries Attendance Apathy in Nigeria: Advocacy for Inclusive Public Relations Intervention

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Published on June 2, 2019

Author: MuseumInnovation


1. MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES ATTENDANCE APATHY IN UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA: ADVOCACY FOR INCLUSIVE PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERVENTION USING PROFESSOR STELLA IDIONG ART GALLERY, UNIVERSITY OF UYO AS A PARADIGM SHIFT Dr. Anthony Usiaholo Okonofua. Associate Professor of Sculpture and Visual Art Education. Fine and Industrial Arts Department, University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria. +234 802 332 7685.

2. Introduction • The strength of any nation should be predicated on the quality of its citizenship training especially for teeming population among its youth. • This provides them the foundation knowledge of historical, ethnological and anthropological development which values are required for sustainable sense of patriotism needed for nation, States and Local Governments’ development, by extension. • Museums and galleries institutions therefore become relevant and are sacrosanct in citizenship training which imparts values, stimulate patriotism and increase productivity for nation growth.

3. Introduction ………. • Museums and galleries in Nigeria, as elsewhere, are repositories and emissaries of the country's past and present rich cultural legacies and traditions reflecting science and technology encapsulated therein. • It thus implies that citizens’ regular attendance at museums and galleries could provide inspiration for advanced research to further body of new knowledge necessary for development.

4. Introduction ……… Acquired knowledge of the past, through museum education could also serve as motivation to explore and process new information, with a view to attaining a desired future. • The sophistry of science and technology as we have today is predicated on the dynamics of developmental phenomena. • For instance, there was a civilization that thrived on making fire by striking pieces of flint stones (percussion) and thereafter phosphorus matches and lighters were developed in the modern times. Wisniak (2005)

5. Introduction ……. • It is true that so much knowledge is trapped in the museum and need to be acquired by the people through the educational and research units in the museums. • However, empirical evidence has shown lackadaisical attitude to museums and galleries attendance in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. • Thus, depriving the people opportunistic access to the body of knowledge enshrouded in their cultural heritage.

6. Issues • In Nigeria today, scholars might present divergent views about the popular maxim of how Europe underdeveloped Africa (Franon 1974). • Rather than accept lack of patriotic attitude possibly born out of ignorance of hidden technology invested in cultural heritage, Nigerians tend to find solace in the excusitist theory of Frank Franon, that Europe was responsible for our underdevelopment.

7. Issues………….. • At present, we do not have self reliance, what we have is a future of uncertainty of technological and economic emancipation as a nation. • Nigeria economy seems largely import based as 90% of her economy still depends on foreign technologies (Mahmud 2019), and still craves after what is often termed “transferred technology” from developed nations (Bindir 2014, Pearl (2016).

8. Issues………….. • The Director General of the National office for technology acquisition and promotion (NOTAP) observed that several governments’ efforts towards industrialization have not yielded expected results. • Ibrahim ( ) appreciated successive governments efforts in Nigeria to ensure that the public sector use indigenous Nigerian technology, but observed that such efforts have been futile for the private sector which he noted was still dominated with foreign technology.

9. Issues……………. • Nigeria once attained high level of artistic and technological sophistry in iron workings otherwise known as metallurgy, since pre-colonial period, Alpine (2005). • Today, still among the largest importers of iron and steel from Europe and other parts of the world. • Since 1997-2004, when I taught and coordinated a general course in University of Uyo, titled, Nigerian Peoples and Culture (GST112), the issue of restoring Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Industry in Nigeria, has remained inconclusive, till date.

10. Issues…………… • What about Nok Terracotta, Benin bronzes and Iron tools, produced and traced back to our ancestry? • As a nation so naturally endowed with creative ingenuity, the question is, what else of significance has Nigeria achieved before and after her discovery of iron?

11. Museum and Galleries as Panacea for Underdevelopment • Museums and galleries are ideal institutions to facilitate industrial and economic emancipation and of course social integration through cultural consciousness. • It is the position of this paper that low level of museum attendance and by implication, lack of museum education, could portend state of underdevelopment to any nation. • It creates unawareness among its citizens towards inherent indigenous technology entrenched in their intellectual properties, found in Museums and galleries. .

12. Museum and Galleries as Panacea for Underdevelopment ……………. • Such lack of knowledge of indigenous technology that produced most of the artifacts and contemporary visual arts works can adversely affect nation development through loss of inspiration to innovative research. • This negative trends can only be corrected and sustained when museums and galleries in Nigeria, albeit, Uyo, in Akwa Ibom State, assume their primordial civic responsibilities of articulated educational research, a necessary reorientation alongside basic functions of collection, exhibition, preservation and interpretations of cultural heritage.

13. Museum and Galleries as Panacea for Underdevelopment • There is need for innovations and paradigm shift in Museum and gallery management toward inclusive, proactive public relation intervention, especially within and outside region of resident. • Research findings have shown that majority of citizens around Uyo environs do not know about the existence of museums and galleries.

14. Findings Survey enquiry conducted to determine the cause of apathy in museums and galleries attendance in Uyo environs showed the following: • National museum of arts and monuments and National gallery of art, Uyo including Oron museum, are all Federal government agents subsumed under National Ministry of arts and culture. • Evidence of paucity of fund in environmental neglect in most cases overgrown by weeds • Poor usage of public relationship creating dearth of mass communicated messages. thus most citizens are not aware of museums and galleries activities

15. Findings • Operates mainly on physical rather than virtual space to connect with public • Museums and galleries do not have active website or electronic mail address, thus are restricted only to local environment. • Engages in guarded tour in form of excursions to visitors from primary, secondary and tertiary institutions but without standard classroom facilities.

16. Research Questions • Why is there so much detachment between the museums, art galleries and the people resulting in low level attendance in Akwa Ibom State and Uyo in particular? • Are museums and galleries management policies community oriented?

17. Inclusive Public Relations Intervention • Within the ambit of conceptual framework adopted for this submission, inclusive public relations infers advocacy for introduction of unusual practices as interventions to connect individuals and groups’ interests and solicit participations in museums and galleries activities. • The practice is meant to explore the media in public enlightenment campaign as tools for reaching out and creating cultural awareness and sensitivity among the people to their cultural heritage.

18. Inclusive Public Relations Intervention ……….. • Media are radio and television advertisements to connect directly with members of the public. It is very rare to hear about Museums and art galleries advertize in public domains in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. • Since most museums are government ministries, it is assumed they are fully established and operate under teleguided extant laws and within the ambit of conservative principles of operation. • As agents of Government, there is no freedom for flexible style of administration without personal cost implications which serve as restraints to innovations.

19. Inclusive Public Relations Intervention ……….. • This paper advocates a paradigmatic shift away from the conventional managerial norms of collection, exhibition and preservation that seem to have become a cliché to a more proactive and inclusive modes of development and learning. • Because of pedagogical affinity involved in learning and development, a social inclusion intervention theory becomes relevant.

20. Professor Stella Idiong Art Gallery, University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria, as an examplar • Mass communicated messages to connect with public in modern days evangelization fashion, thriving on telecasts- Radio and television broadcast of gallery activities. • Established dedicated and sustainable website;, for virtual access to the gallery from any part of the world. • Excursion to the gallery is complemented with tutorials and other creative interactive visitors’ friendly events.

21. Professor Stella Idiong Art Gallery, University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria, as an examplar …………. • Besides display of permanent exhibitions, special exhibitions are spiced with performance during official openings. (See Picture or visit the site for video clips) • Situated in the heart of University campus, students are thrilled, as remarked in the visitors’ attendance books, to be part of the gallery. • The gallery tolerates guided video shoots and selfies by the visitors who are mostly students from population. They feel welcome and relaxed

22. Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation The study has revealed that Museum and gallery institutions are faced with enormous challenge and the need to change the narratives and reconnect with the community. The study advocates inclusive public orientated interventions to facilitate attendance for purposes of impacting the society positively

23. • It is recommended that Museums and art galleries in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, should update their mode of service delivery to meet the digital needs of the contemporary society. • School curricula across levels should embrace Museum and art education with anthropological and aesthetic contents.

24. • Research funding should be result oriented to translate into intellectual properties and industrial products. • Community partnership and collaborations as key to social integration should be supported if Museums and art galleries must continue to be agents for social change and relevant.

25. End Thank you for your time!!!

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