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Compare & Contrast – The National Museum vs The British Museum

We need no introduction to the National Museum in Lagos, I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago. If you missed it, you can read about it here.

This was me pondering about Nigeria when I went to the British Museum and couldn’t understand why ours was the way it is.


Where did we go wrong?


The National Museum is in my opinion a work in progress and I’m hopeful that in the future there will be major improvements (I hope a minister somewhere is reading this). Located in Onikan, Lagos, the museum seems to have seen better days and is home to artifacts which tell a story of Nigeria’s history.


The British Museum, located on Great Russell Street, is a sight to behold. It is an ever expanding building with a vast collection from around the world (including our Benin masks. Can’t imagine why it’s not in our museum, but maybe it’s better off there). Almost every continent and age in time is represented there.

The British Museum was rated as the top tourist destination in London last year and its not surprising.


Your ancestors work chilling in foreign territory


So lets see their differences & similarities shall we? (even though the picture above says it all).

  1. Entry to the British Museum is free while for the National Museum you pay N200 (I guess some people will consider this free, but it’s not!).

  2. In the British Museum, guides are available to take you round and explain the various sections, you just have to make sure you’re at the meeting point at the specific time indicated. They also have audio guides for those who would rather go round on their own. Of course this has to be paid for. You however don’t need to get it. You can go round on your own without any form of guidance. The National Museum on the other hand, doesn’t have guides. If you want a guided tour, you must write to the governing body to request for a guide and inform them of your intended day of visit. No idea on how long it takes to get a reply.  So if you were to come to Nigeria on vacation, you would have to write ahead of your trip, wait for a reply and it might not even be positive! Somebody please help!


Tourists listening to a guide


  1. There is free wifi available at the British Museum, no such luck at its Nigerian counterpart ie no wifi at all.

  2. The British Museum allows you take pictures, The National Museum forbids it so that their work isn’t imitated.

  3. One can see that great effort has been put into making the British Museum what it is today, from the building itself to its content. The Nigerian Museum needs a lot of work in every aspect. The food courts are also miles apart.

  4. I have no idea about the opening times at The National Museum in Lagos. It’s pretty touch and go. You could get there and they’ve closed for the day like a friend of mine experienced. They do claim to be open from 9am-4pm everyday. The British Museum opens everyday from 10am-5.30pm and stays late on Fridays. The only time they close is from Christmas Eve to Boxing day and New Years day. How’s that for dedication?

I could go on about them both, unfortunately they seem to have more differences than similarities. I think it’s a shame that I saw things from Nigeria in the British Museum that can’t be found in our own museum. I hear the Minister of Information & Culture visited recently and I hope that he makes the changes needed around there. The National Museum in Lagos is a tourist attraction and should be treated as such, not just a place where some artifacts are shown and you are expected to be satisfied with what is presented. Nigeria has a lot more to offer and the museum can show a lot more than is on offer at the moment. We can start by maybe renovating the building itself.

This is in no way a bashing exercise but for us to see where we fall short and how we can work towards having world class standards. If we ever hope to join tourism worthy countries, we should start with making sure these places are at least inviting.

Enjoy the pictures below and see the differences in both museums.

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