Museum collection An instrument of unity

Museum collection: An instrument of unity and sustainable development

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While collection simply means an accumulation or assemblage of objects; in a broad sense, it is said to be the material evidence of man and his environment which are of historical, cultural, scientific or technological values.

These objects/materials are sometimes of contemporary nature. They might have been used in some special events such as FESTAC 1977 or by certain dignitaries in the society.

They can as well be ancient in nature or relics of the past often from 100 years and above, or could have been fashioned before 1918. They are usually very fragile.

Thus, these materials, artifacts, antiquities when grouped or assembled together are known as ‘Collections.’

Museum collections therefore constitute the assemblage of anthropological, biological and geological objects acquired because of their scientific, historic and educational significance. So, it is important to point out here that museum collections go beyond objects as they include the tangible and intangible collections which are also in form of folklore, drama, poetry, among others; living and non-living things as well as natural heritage collections such as flora and fauna; biological specimens and immovable collections such a monuments; sites and many more.

Some of the various ways a museum acquires its collections are through purchasing, loaning, borrowing, donations, bequeathing, seizure among others as they are equally classified into three major groups based on their composition, namely: organic, inorganic and composite objects.

It is highly imperative for any museum establishment to follow the proper collection system in accordance with the international guidelines of world museum collection management committees that protects and provides adequate information through a body known as Collection Management’s Policy (CMP). The body manages museums through documentation, conservation, storage and security monitoring in order to meet the world collection standard as stipulated by United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which focuses on the importance of collection, documentation and storage management.

The development of museum collection has culminate to a potential source that has not just made diverse impacts, but as well brought financial gains and revenue generation to the museum industry in terms of paying of entrance fee to sites and for museum guided tours and visits as well as sales of crafts, documents and photos, which have in turn boosted the craft industry.

There are other key roles collections play in a museum aside from the financial gains – they help visitors to have a better understanding of their cultural and natural heritage.

  • Isola is Assistant Museum Director, National Museum, Ile-Ife.

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