SURVEY OF PRESERVATION AND CONSERVATION OF LOCAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS IN NIGERIA LIBRARY SCIENCE Project Topics – Complete project material


ABSTRACT

This research study aims at identifying the presentation and conservation of Local history collections in Nigeria, a case study of National War Museum, Umuahia, Abia State. In the process of carry out this research, the researcher identifies the problems/constrain, methods/techniques adopted, the classes of artifacts kept and also proffer solutions to the effective procedures for preservation and of local history collection in a museum under study. In the study, the researcher observed among numerous variables that fumigation gives the best method of preserving the artifacts. In line with fumigation, the establishment also place priority attention by using air conditioner to control weather condition and which in its true senses brought about prolonging the life-span of artifacts. Based on the findings and available literature in the field, mentioned has been made concerning the necessity of computer application in the preservation and conservation of local history collections. For efficient management, the researcher recommends the provision of standby generating set as to support the ICT. Programme recommended, above all it is noted that there is a cordial relationship among the component units that constitute the establishment. The study also revealed why it is possible for the establishment to preserve its artifact successfully, that a separate unit is designated to observe the preservation culture and back up fully with adequate security networking. Names such as curator, is the head of museum management while conservator is a person in charge with the skills in preserving and conserving the artifacts. This work is divided into five (5) chapters. Chapter one is the introduction of the work while chapter two is the review of related literature, research methodology is in chapter three, chapter four deals with the presentation and analysis of data. Finally, chapter five presents the conclusion and the related recommendations. 

CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION 

1.1 OVERVIEWThe importance attached to any museum object derives its value in cultural and historical context which may span over areas such as religion, education on, politics, economy and warfare. It is pertinent to note those museums are categorizes according to the type of their collections, locations and their purpose. A: According to type of object in their collections.1. ART MUSEUM: It collects the elites artistic products of human society, painting, drawings, photographs, statues, furniture, jewelry, textiles, metals ware and craft products. 2. HISTORY MUSEUM: It is concerned with history. All objects made or used by human beings are potentials interest to the history museum.3. ENCYCLOPEDIC OR GENERAL MUSEUM: It deals with several or all fields instead of just art, or history or geology etc. 4. ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM: It collects and exhibit historical and cultural remains recovered from the earth.5. SCIENCE MUSEUM: There are two major kinds of science museum: a. Science/industry museums b. National history museums.6. ETHNOGRAPHY MUSEUM: It collects and displays cultural materials associated with social institutions, clothing and implements of old.7. Museum of posters, toys, textile etc. B: According to the location and ownership: These museums are usually of general types.1. University Museums: It is attached to the history, science or other departments of the universities and owned and managed by the university authority.2. Art council museum 3. Local government museums 4. State museum 5. Federal museum 6. Open air museum According to their purpose1. Children museum: These are museums intended exclusively for young children, with every thing in their scale down to fit their physical size and mental capacity. 2. Museum for the blind 3. Museums of freedom-fighting. Therefore, following the general perception of the public about the state of museum as highlighted above, need arises about the awareness and development of museum and their corresponding preservation and conservation of artifacts. At this juncture, it is relevant to explain the key concepts of this research study which includes, museum, artifacts, preservation, conservation, etc as it is in respect of the case study. The National War Museum Umuahia, Abia State.

1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY The establishment of museum is significant in any developing nation like Nigeria where historical record provides a link between the past, the present and most certainly, the future. The importance attached to any museum object derives its value in cultural and historical context which may span over areas such as Religion, Education, Politics, Economy and warfare. It is most unfortunate, however, that most Nigerians, up to this time, have not yet realized the importance of museums to the society. To such people, museums are associated with artifacts and monuments which are regarded as old and useless objects meant for incarceration: This type of impression attached to this important agency (museum) has so much affected us such that most of the objects which would have been very useful in general enlighten and education of the public suffer from deterioration.

1.1.0 DEFINITION A survey of preservation and conservation of local history collections in Nigeria: (A case study of National War museum, Umuahia) which is the topic of this work cannot be well treated if the concept of “preservation and conservation” and “museum” elude the author. However, The World book Dictionary (1996) defines conservation as “the act of conserving, protecting from loss or being used up: avoidance of waste”. “Management, protection, wise use of resources”. Furthermore, The Encyclopedia Britannica (1978) explains that conservation concerns the care given to collection as a whole, to protect them against these three causes of alteration: that is, environmental factor (temperature, humidity, atmospheric, pollution, lighting); Internal factor (biological, physical, chemical or mechanical action within the object itself); and human factor (handling, transportation etc).Alegbeleye (1985) sees conservation as the term that embraces several related ideas such as:

a. Restoration, which is the action taken to correct deterioration of all kinds and also maintain the items in their original form. b. Substitution which has to do with the replacement of the original by microfilming and digitalization. The Webster’s Encyclopedia Dictionary (1998) defines preservation as “to keep, maintain and preserve from ruin for the present and future uses”.The World Book Dictionary (1996) defines preservation as “the act or process of preserving keeping safe: or those activities which are involved in keeping an object from deteriorating further”.Museum is defined as a “temple, home, resort of the learned; and institution or repository for the collection, exhibition and study of objects of artistic, historic, scientific and educational interest”. It is an institution established to encourage the preservation and to discourage as far as possible the deterioration and loss of objects treasured by the society. ORIGIN OF MUSEUM Museum originated with man’s interest in collecting, accumulating precious, beautiful and curious objects. The oldest of such collections were privately financed, made by the wealthy or by the church. Museum in general, does for objects what libraries and archives do for books and government records respectively. It is, therefore necessary to stress here that the society does not tend to preserve her objects just to hoard them, but to preserve them because of their intellectual values. 

It is pertinent to note that the most important phenomena which have influenced the direction of human development and progress are scientific discoveries, and warfare of these greater attentions has been paid to the preservation and presentation of information relating to the former but less has been done concerning the later. Yet information about scientific episodes and the development of warfare are of equal importance if we are to have a balanced view of the course of human development and progress. Man, from the prehistoric times, has always been a fighter in the face of real or imagined enemies. However, one thing is clear, and that is that one of the cardinal aims of wars is either to maintain or change status quo with a view to ensuring advantages for those who engage in them. There should be no doubt, therefore, about the enormous role which war have played in the overall shaping of the society. Unpleasant and horrible as wars may seen, the preservation of the relics of national war efforts becomes the responsibility of every government that needs to be informed about itself and of course that nation’s development. The museum and the exhibition therein, are aimed at preserving Nigeria’s war relics and illustrate its war efforts through ages. The purpose of this work is not to glorify our efforts at wars, but to enable the general public see in historical perspective the evolutions of Nigeria Military Technology, highlight the inventive ingenuity of Nigerians as evident in the war relics and emphasizes the need to guard jealously our national unity so that the motto of the museum “that they did not die in vain” may be justified.

1.2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND THE DEVELOPMENT OF MUSEUM IN NIGERIA The idea of developing public museum in Nigeria devoted to the conservation of the relics of early cultures and civilization and traditional material culture of its people came much latter than in many other African countries. For example while Ugandan Museum was founded in 1908 (though opened in 1959) and the National Museum of the Tangnyika in Dar-es-salm was opened in 1941 as the king George memorial museum, the first established museum in Nigeria was in Ife the Esie museum which was opened to the public in 1946. The mid and late fifties saw the opening of more public museums in Nigeria, beginning with that of Jos in April, 1952. The year 1957 saw the opening of National museum in Lagos while those of Oron and Benin city were opened to the public in 1959 and 1960 respectively. In Nigeria today, not only are new National museums being established some local authorizes are also showing interest in having their own museums. The Federal Government, have also shown concern through the National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM) by opening offices in all states of the federation.

1.3 THE NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM UMUAHIA The national war museum is located at Ebite Amafor in Umuahia, the capital city of Abia State. The idea of the establishment of a museum of the history of warfare which would enable Nigerians to appreciate and understand the course and content of the war more fully was suggested in 1971 by Dr. Eyo Ekpo, the Director of Antiquities. Although, the idea was acceptable to the military government, the suggestion was not acted upon because the country has not quite settled down after the war. Although, too, the government decided to collect materials connected with the war and carryout photographic documentation on field equipment and evidence for future use, no real effort was embarked upon until 1977 when the Army Council finally approved the establishment of Nation War Museum at Umuahia. The purpose of the National War Museum was to collect vital documents and objects that were related to Nigerian civil war and to serve as a centre for information on Nigeria warfare through ages as a research centre for military science. 

The decision to establish a National War Museum at Umuahia mooted by the then Chief of Army Staff Limited. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (Rtd) after his visit to Yugoslavia and USSR in 1976. While in these countries, he was shown war monuments and related relies, and he marveled at the attention and importance attached to them and their preservation in museum. On his return to Nigeria, at the second meeting of the Army Council in 1977, he mooted the idea of the establishment of war museum in his reference letter No (NA/COAS/58) of 13 April 1978 to the then Head of the Military. government; genera T.Y. Danjuma stated, “my view is that although the idea of setting up a National War Museum came from the Army, the museum itself will not be an Army or even Armed Forces institution, but a National. In other words the National War Museum will be a sub-unit of the Department of Antiquities. However, the Army will assist the department in the procurement and collection of items of interest to the museum. This suggestion was accepted by the, then Head of State and commander of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. In pursuance of its decision to establish the war museum, the Army set up an advisory committee comprising officers from the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Air force and the National Commission for museums and monument to assist in the development, operation, maintenance and the research activities of the museum. On September 16th, 1982, the committee had its first meeting at Umuahia under the chairmanship of major General Sanni Abacha. When he was moved to the command at the 2nd division he handed over the chairmanship to the then Lt. Col. J.N. Shagayo in January 1984. During the first meeting of the committee under Lt. Col. J.N. Shagayo, it was decided that the museum should be launched on January 15th 1985. 

With the official launching of the museum in January 1985 by the then Chief Supreme Headquarters Major General Tunde Idiagbon (Rtd), individuals and groups, immediately responded to the call and contributed to the growth which culminated in the formal commissioning on Thursday 14th September, 1989. Today, the museum has an area of 3,778 hectares of land.It maintains a research library which as at the time of this writing, has been fully developed, it houses exhibition galleries, stories, curatorial centres, audiovisual units and a multipurpose wall. The National War museum now houses the indoor aspects of the voice of Biafra. It is a lovely place to visit, a place laden with curious items. Beyond the concrete entrance the visitor descends a staircase in three flights. The steps are lighted with white fluorescent tubes. And inside this area are mounted along both walls photographs that tell the story of the war. There is one ebullient demonstration celebrating the end of the war. They carry a placard which reads “Obituary Biafra is dead”. Then another of the day of surrender showing Obasanjo and Effiong, the two soldiers who ended the war. There are also pictures of the victims of the war like a killed Biafra mercenary. On the staircase that lead to the second entrance, on both sides are mounted photographs of major actors on both sides, Ojukwu facing Gowon with all the major members of their respective teams coming after them. Further upon this staircase are portraits of the victims and predators of the January 1966 coup. Then the visitors enter the building which houses the offices of the museum built so that coming out of the bunker, you emerge inside it.

1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDYThe purpose of his work is to survey a preservation and conservation of local history collections in Nigeria making specific reference to the National War Museum Umuahia. The project is also aimed at stimulating discussions on some of the issues raised so that museum can play its proper role and also to enable the public understand what that role is. This study will among other things, examine the following:a. The reason for siting the museum at Umuahia.b. Find out the extent which recession in the economy of the country affected the growth and management of the museum. c. To identify the chemicals/methods involved in the presentation and conservation of objects in museum. d. Find out the various processes involved in the collections of the objects and how they are stored in the museum. e. To identify the person charge with the care of preservation and conservation of museum objects. f. To identify the major problems militating against the effective use of the museum. g. Attempt suggestions on how these problems could be alleviated.

1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS Based on research objectives above, the research questions are follows:1. What are chemicals/methods involved in the preservation and conservation of objects in a museum. 2. What types of objects/artifacts are stored in a museum 3. What preserves/conserves the museum’s objects4. What kind of security approach is adopted in the museum5. What factors affected the preservation and conservation of objects/artifacts in museum6. What ways can preservation and conservation of objects/artifacts in a museum be improved.

1.6 HYPOTHESIS 1. That the lack of skilled staff in museums to handle the preservation and conservation of objects may result to complete deterioration. 2. That there is a significant relationship between the establishment of museum and development of nation. 3. That effective use of museum depends largely of the awareness, promotion and maintenance culture. 4. That the growth, establishment etc of the museum is adversely hampered by lack of funds and poor perception of the public about the role of museum.

1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The study aimed at identifying the various methods used in preserving and conserving museum artifacts from deterioration. The knowledge of the factors that causes damages to museum objects are also identified. Suggestions on curative measures are given concerning the preservation and conservation of museum objects well as promoting effective use of the museum. Finally, the study has broadened the mind of the researcher about the place of museum in a society and the documentation of this research work for reference guide for present and future researcher.

1.8 METHODOLOGY 

In order to ensure adequate coverage of data for this survey, the author adopted three method of data collection. a. The use of questionnaire b. Personal interviews c. Personal observations. All these methods of data collection complement each other and served to a great extent in providing a wider scope of data available for this survey.

1.9 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

Although, there is quite a handful of museums scattered all over Nigeria but considering the purpose of the study, the author has limited the work only to the National War, Museum, Umuahia. In spite of the numerous museum in the country, this research findings is limited to the preservation and conservation of local history collection in Nigeria, emphasis to National War Museum, Umuahia. This was neceessary so that an in-depth study could be made within the time available for this project. The major area of concentration includes the management and collection of the museum.

1.10 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM 

Museum collections represent great variety in nature and in form, but one thing is common to them all the materials of which they made are subject to natural ageing and decay. There are a number of natural deteriorating factors that act upon objects continuously. In order to prevent objects/artifacts from further damage, certain precaution have to be taken by curators or conservators so that the processes of deterioration are at least slowed down.However, some noticeable human factor such as lack of finding, lack of skillful manpower and inadequate security may lead to the destruction and deterioration of museum artifacts.

1.11 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERM 

ANTIQUITY: An objective or remains of an ancient times and culture.ARTIFACT: Simple man-made object that provides evidence of an ancient culture a work of art; stressing its character as a product of making a structure.CONSERVATION: The scientific intervention in the museum objectives for the purpose of arresting deterioration and extending their life span.CURATOR: A person who is in charge of the museum management.PRESERVATION: The control of deterioration factors and action to prevent, stop or retard deterioration. RELIC: The material evidence of something which ceased to exist or surviving from a past age. 

REFERENCES

Alagbelaye, G.B. (1985) Conservation of the Bibliographic Resources of Nigeria: Problem and Prospect; Nigerian Libraries. Vol 12; P. 11-18. Encyclopedia Britannica Vol. 12, (1978) “Conservation and Restoration”, London: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. P. 651. The Nigeria Handbook: (1985) 25 Years of Progress A Silver Jubilee Review. Lagos; Patike COmms. Ltd P. 86. Webster’s Encyclopedia Dictionary of English Language Vol. 2 (1988). Oxford: Oxford University Press. P. 53.Webster’s Third New International Dictionary Vol. 11; P. 1252. Within, A. S. (1949) The Museum: its History and its tasks in Education. London: Oxford University Press; p. 13.World Book Dictionary Vol. I (1996) London: World Book Inc. p. 117.


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