National Museum of Lagos: 8 Must-See Masterpieces

A notable collection of Nigerian art, carvings, archaeological and ethnographic exhibits

Welcome to the National Museum of Lagos

Founded in 1957 by the British archaeologist Kenneth Murray, the museum holds some of the most fascinating objects telling the story of Nigerian art and culture. Located in heart of Lagos, the museum collects, preserves and promotes Nigeria's rich heritage to the world. Tour the building and step inside to explore the masterpieces and galleries celebrating the unique cultures of over 300 communities in Nigeria. Here are seven must-see masterpieces in the National Museum of Lagos.

1. Anyanwu
'Anyanwu' meaning 'eye of the sun'. This sculpture by Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu can be found at the entrance of the museum. It depicts the female deity 'Chi-Ukwu' rising up out of the ground, her lithe body arching towards the sky. It is made of bronze.

2. Ekoi Stone Sculpture
The Ekoi people inhabit the bank of Cross River in Scattered villages, headed by an Ntoon 'chief priest'. The Ntoon is responsible for the ritual activities of the community. When they die, they are represented by carved basalt monolith called 'Akwanshi', Village beauties, valiant warriors and heroes are also represented in carved monolith. It is estimated that by 1200AD this art had died out.

3. Dakakari grave sculpture
The Dakakari who live near Zuru in Sokoto State are well known for their funerary sculpture. These sculptures serve as a burial markers and memorials in the grave of Chiefs, warriors, renowned hunters and social elite. Some of the various stylized human and animal figures were found on skillfully sculpted, graves made of clay. Graves were usually surrounded by small rounded walls made of clay for families and stones for prominent men.

4. A fierce Sukur warrior protecting her land
The sculpture depicts a traditional Sukur women in traditional attire. The Sukur community lived in the Sukur Cultural Landscape, which today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located on a hill above the village of Sukur in Adamawa State. Besides being fierce warriors, the people of Sukur were known for their architecture.

5. Life on the Lagoon
Lagos is the largest city in Africa, and known for its lakes and lagoons. The name 'Lagos' means 'lakes' in the Portuguese. Here contemporary artist, Nathaniel Hodonu, depicts modern life on the lagoon.

6. The car in which Murtala Mohammed was assassinated
Behind the glass door is the black Mercedes Benz saloon car in which General, Murtala Muhammed was assassinated in 1976. It holds great importance and tells a story of the end of an era. Murtala Muhammed was a military head of state and later President of Nigeria.

7. Wood and coconut carvings
Contemporary Nigerian artists are today expressing themselves through many mediums. Inspired by Nok culture, sculptor Nathaniel Hodonu uses wood and coconut shells to create imaginative artworks.

8. Jollof pot on wheels
Jollof is a cherised dish in Nigeria. This huge pot is located at the entrance of the museum. It serves as a representation of communities coming together to share their love of food.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Èkó for Show: Explore Lagos
Meet the movers and shakers shaping Nigeria's electrifying city
View theme
Google apps