Simply put, a museum is an institution where cultural materials or object s or artefacts are kept, preserved and used for teaching and learning purposes. It is the storehouse of artefacts and antiquities which have cultural, historical scientific and technological values.

Museums all over the world are guided by International Council of Museum (ICOMS). On August 24, 2022, ICOM came out with a working definition of museum as “a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage; open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability. They operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities”.

It is gratifying to note that it’s the collections that make the museum. It’s the collections – tangible and intangible heritage materials of humanity and its environment that attract people of various divides and culture together. A museum without collections is a mere building. When people come to visit the museum, they come to have fun, learn and observe. Apart from this, they make new friends. Soon they will know more about the cultural values of these new friends of theirs. Their friends will also gain insights about their own. This results in cultural cross-fertilization which will invariably foster peaceful co-existence and strengthen unity among people. Museum collections, therefore, are good vehicles for/or means of communication that helps to create bond between visitors, generations and cultures around the world.

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The importance of museum in building blocks of love and unity can’t be over-emphasized. One of the ways the then government of General Yakubu Gowon rekindled love and unity among the different ethnic nationalities in Nigeria after the civil war was to build national museum in each state or zones housing objects/artefacts from other parts of the country showing the relationships between our cultures, norms and values. These objects or museum collections speak volumes about the cultural affinities amongst Nigerians, though tribes and tongues may differ. With the proliferation of museum in the country, there has been an explosion of connection facilitated by museum collections through exhibitions, educational, study materials, etc. Not only are more people becoming more edified and informed and thereby demystifying the stereotyped beliefs held about people who do not belong to the same tribe, the museum exhibitions have been able to bring to the fore the similarities in Nigeria’s cultural heritage and this has helped to douse intolerance and suspicion and bring about peace and mutual co-operation and understanding among people of diverse cultures.

Museum collections represent the memories of the people, their cultures, their dreams and aspirations. The increasing importance of resurgent national, regional and local identities where museum collections can serve to objectively reflect change and continuity in traditional cultural values and development is of critical significance in museum development. Museum collections have a key role to play in providing an understanding of identity and a sense of belonging to a place or community. In the face of immense and often painful cultural change in many countries owing to colonialism, museum through its collections can provide valuable sense of connection by preserving the past, capturing the present, and serve as a springboard for inspiring the future, projecting culture and promoting tourism. Also museum collections are vehicles for cultural exchange among nations in a world divided by phony cultural barriers and restrictions. More importantly, museum collections have in recent times become an instrument of cultural diplomacy arising from the connection they facilitate. This is not surprising because museums are the only institutions in the world that employ the use of objects as universal language of communication. Of a truth. Museum collections make connections.