Back to all fellows

Cynthia Iruobe

National Commission for Museums and Monuments

Chief Curator

Country: Nigeria

ITP Year: 2010


Cynthia is Chief Curator and Documentation Officer in her institution. Her day-to-day activities are numerous and involve the documentation and research of collections that are not on display and have not currently been documented (either brought in by archaeologists or vendors). She also conducts necessary and constant house-keeping because the climate in Lagos means that dust settles on objects easily. Cynthia also creates tag cards that have experienced wear and tear, and carries out inventories of the collections.

Cynthia is also the Head of the Export Permit Unit within the Documentation Department of her institution. This Unit ensures that collections that are going out on exhibition within and outside the country are well documented and are issued with a clearance permit to travel. It is also a Unit that gives receipts to travellers with an assurance that the items they are traveling with are non-antiquities, as a lot of classical works are copied.

Cynthia has worked to document objects that were repatriated from various countries and put together an exhibition on these pieces. Since participating in the ITP in 2010, she has been actively involved in several exhibitions in her institution.

Cynthia is currently studying for an MA in Curating, and is currently on placement with the National Museum of Scotland where she is involved in a number of projects concerning NMS’ Nigerian collections, assisting with documentation and helping to build a knowledge sharing network across both museums. She also reviews Nigerian place names and ethnic group terms which have been entered into the museum database that are problematic or offensive, and updates where appropriate.

Cynthia’s dream for museums of the future is for museums to embrace an inclusive approach by allowing communities to become part of the curation and interpretation process. She would like to see future museums should be able to implement better data-driven systems to analyse visitor preferences and behaviours to allow personalised museum experiences.

At the British Museum
During her time on the International Training Programme in 2010, Cynthia was based in the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas and her partner placement was spent at Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, Newcastle.  After her visit to the Arbeia Roman Fort, she proposed a mock excavation in her home museum to educate children on archaeological and ethnographic practices in an engaging and interactive way, championing touch and feel instead of pointing and looking to share stories. She also introduced Saturday soap making, cloth dying, and cooking workshops for children, using replicas from the collection to reenact their uses.

In 2010 participants were asked to develop a proposal for a small temporary exhibition – based on British Museum objects – on some aspect of their own cultures. Cynthia’s exhibition project proposal was entitled Ikenga.

Legacy Projects
In April 2023, Cynthia joined the ITP team for the ICOM UK Conference in Glasgow which focussed on Addressing the legacies of colonialism nationally and internationally. In November the same year, Cynthia participated in an ITP legacy project attending the Museums Association Conference held in Newcastle-Gateshead. With fellows from Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Turkey, Cynthia attended a programme structured around the 3-day MA Conference on The Power of Museums.

ITP Newsletter Publications
ITP Newsletter Issue 2 (2013), Bulletin Board
ITP Newsletter Issue 3 (2015), Reasons for celebration: Nigeria Museums at 70
ITP Newsletter Issue 4 (2016), Bulletin Board