Museums in Kenya
This is a comprehensive list of the Museums in Kenya.
Tambach Museum is a museum located in Tambach, Kenya. It is located in the former District Commissioner’s residence. Tambach is one of the oldest towns in Kenya. It was established in 1920s as a British colonial center of administering Elgeiyo and Marakwet people For much of the colonial period, the town grew from a tiny village to a busy urban center.By the end of 1950s, Tambach developed into a very pretty little town.
Wajir Museum was officially open on 19th April, 2011.The main objective of this museum is to give you a glimpse of the rich cultural, historical and natural heritage of Northern Kenya and its interaction with the world.The Wajir Museum houses an exhibition that reflects traditions and the customs of communities living in this Northern part of Kenya.The theme of the exhibition is “A Window to Northern Kenya”.
It is a part of initiatives to open up Northern Kenya to the tourism industry forming a part of the tourist attractions that will offer distinctive products in the region.
Located at the intersection of Kenyatta Avenue/ Uhuru Highway in the heart of Nairobi City is the Nairobi Gallery.Built in 1913, this was the Old PC’s office building fondly referred to as ‘Hatches, Matches and Dispatches’ because of the births, marriages and deaths that were recorded here.Today, the building is a National Monument and serves as a museum holding temporary art exhibitions.
Rabai is well known in the annals of history as the place where Christianity and modern learning in Kenya started well over 150 years ago. In 1994 the Krapf Memorial Museum was founded to give formal and a perpetual reminder to monumental events during the advent of early missionaries. Stories about the first missionaries were passed on by word of mouth and are still told today.
Built in 1846 as the first Church edifice in Kenya, Rabai is situated about 25 km north-west of Mombasa, off the Nairobi-Mombasa highway on Mazeras-Kaloleni road, about half an hour?s drive from Mombasa.
The building was bought from the Bohra community for 2,000 English Pounds after a longer period of occupation by the Medical Department who had used the building to serve as the Malindi Native Civil Hospital. The exact date of construction is not known but when Thomas Alfree was buying the property from the Bohra community, as discussed in his undated autobiography, even the oldest Bohra who was then more than ninety years old could not remember when it was built. We can, nonetheless suggest a date of construction perhaps the last quarter of the 19th century, a time bracket that saw these type of building style fashionable especially in the old towns of Lamu and Mombasa.
Loiyangalani Desert Museum
Located on top of a hill, with a backdrop of the picturesque Lake Turkana, also known as the “Jade Sea”, the Desert Museum, Loiyangalani was opened in June 2008.The National Museums of Kenya in realizing the unique cultures in this region and following its mandate to preserve and promote Kenya’s rich cultural and natural heritage, presents you with rich heritage of the eight communities living around Lake Turkana.
Loiyangalani is a small town located on the southeastern coast of the lake. The name Loiyangalani, means “a place of many trees” in the native Samburu Language and is also home to the El Molos, an almost extinct community.
Located within Nakuru town, Hyrax Hill Museum depicts the lifestyle of seasonal settlement by prehistoric people at least 3,000 years old. The Museum is a former farmhouse ceded to the monument in 1965, by the Late Mr. A. Selfe. A small museum was opened here where artifacts from the Hyrax Hill site and other sites in the Central Rift Valley are displayed.
Numerous sites around the hill belong to different time periods with the earliest finds dating back to the Neolithic period. There is evidence in the form beach sands that a fresh water Lake once extended right to the base of the hill; turning the hill into a peninsular or even an island. The mighty prehistoric lake is believed to have covered the valley from Nakuru to Lake Elementaita about 8,500 years ago. Traces of it have been found at Hyrax Hill, the Wakumi Burial Site, Gambles cave and amongst other places.
Meru museum originated in 1974 in an old historic building that was vacated by the District Commissioner, whose office it had been since the colonial days. The building housing the Meru museum dates back to 1916. In the colonial era it served as an administrative node in the Mount Kenya region. The museum was a joint effort by the Meru Municipal and County Councils, together with the National Museums of Kenya in creating an attractive and formative center useful to the local people and to visitors.
Gede ruins are the remains of a Swahili town, typical of most towns along the East African Coast. It traces its origin in the twelfth century but was rebuilt with new town walls in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This rebuilding is connected with the emigration of many citizens of Kilwa to Mombasa, Malindi and other places along the coast.
With its numerous inhabitants, the town became wealthy and it reached its peak in the fifteenth century. This enormous wealth is evidenced by the presence of numerous ruins, comprising of a conglomeration of mosques; a magnificent palace and houses all nestled in 45 acres ofprimeval forest. But in the first half of the seventeenth century the last
families left the town.
Kariandusi archaeological site is amongst the first discoveries of Lower Paleolithic sites in East Africa. There is enough geological evidence to show that in the past, large lakes, sometimes reaching levels hundreds of meters higher than the Present Lake Nakuru and Elementaita, occupied this basin.
Dating back between 700,000 to 1 million years old, Kariandusi is possibly the first Acheulian site to have been found in Situ in East Africa. Dr. Leakey, a renowned paleontologist, believed that this was a factory site of the Acheulian period. He made this conclusion after numerous collections of specimens were found lying in the Kariandusi riverbed.
Kabarnet museum opened its doors to the public in 1996 in the former District Commissioner Residence. It has four main public galleries featuring the Rift Valley people, their culture, its environment, indigenous knowledge and science for education.
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The main attraction include, the exhibits especially on the culture of the Keiyo / Marakwet, Samburu, Pokot, Nandi and Kipsigis. In addition an overview of the history of the district, from pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence era are on display. While the playground, homesteads and park provides visitors with attractive outdoor scenes.
The museum was the first of the Inland museums to be developed in Kenya. It used to be known by the name the Stoneham Museum. It got its name from an amateur naturalist who lived in Kitale, by the name Lieutenant colonel Hugh Stoneham. He had a collection of insects, other animals and books from 1894 when he was only five years old. He continued his collection until 1966 when he died. Mrs. Linda Donley a peace Corp volunteer was the first curator in 1974.
In 1926, he founded the Stoneham Museum, a private museum and later willed his collections as well as funds for a new museum building to the Kenya Nation. A new building was erected on five acres of land on the outskirts of Kitale town. In December 1974, the National Museums of Western Kenya was opened and became the first regional museum in the Kenya Museum Society.
The construction of Lamu Fort commenced in 1813, shortly after Lamu’s victory over Pate and Mombasa in the battle of Shela. This major building task was reputedly undertaken with the cooperation of Seyyid Said, the Sultan of Oman who was then cultivating a promising new alliance with Lamu.
Upon its completion in about 1821 the fort marked the Southern corner of the traditional stone town and served as a garrison for Baluchi soldiers sent by the Sultan of Oman. Its protective presence encouraged new development around it. Thus confident Merchants erected the 19th century shopfront and buildings. By 1900 the Fort had become the image of the community, a role which it still plays to date.
The National Museums of Kenya has setup a Museum in Narok with exhibitions of pictures and artifacts to preserve the beauty and strength of the rich traditional culture of the Maasai and other speakers of the Maa language.
The Maa speakers in Kenya comprise the Maasai (Narok and Kajiado district), Samburu (Samburu, Laikipia district), Njemps (Baringo district) and groups of Ndorobo neighboring the Maasai.
The Maasai are believed to have originated from North Africa and entered Kenya near L. Turkana, spreading south through the Rift Valley, which provided extensive grazing grounds for their cattle. Today they occupy parts of Kenya and Tanzania.
Kisumu Museum is located in Kisumu town along the Kisumu – Kericho highway. It was opened to the public in 1980. The museum stores and disseminates information on cultural and scientific issues with emphasis on Western Kenya. Exhibits include cultural history. The museum provides educational services to schools in its neighbourhood.
Striking features of the museum include a diverse collection of flora and fauna species. The most notable animals are reptiles and amphibians, collected from Nyanza and neighbouring provinces. A traditional Luo homestead and other traditional Luo artifacts constitute part of the exhibits the museum keeps.
Kapenguria museum was opened in 1993. It is located in Kapenguria town, at the site where the six most influential leaders in the struggle for independence were detained. To preserve the history of the struggle for independence, the National Museums of Kenya with financial support from the Dutch funded Arid and Semi-Arid Lands project in West Pokot preserved and rehabilitated the prison.
The Kapenguria six were the founding fathers of the Kenyan Nation – Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kungu Karumba, Mr. Fred Kubai, Mr. Paul Ngei, Bildad Kaggia and the Hon. Ramogi Achieng Oneko. All of them have passed on although their legacy will always remain alive.
Nairobi National Museum
Museum was initiated in 1910 by a group of enthusiastic naturalists under the then East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society [currently the East African Natural History Society (EANHS)], who needed a place to keep and preserve their collections of various specimens. The first site for the museum was at the present Nyayo House, which later became too small and a larger building was put up in 1922 where the Nairobi Serena Hotel stands today.
In 1929, the colonial government set aside land for a museum construction at Museum Hill which was officially opened in September 22nd 1930 and named Coryndon Museum in honour of Sir Robert Coryndon, one time Governor of Kenya. In 1963 after independence, it was re-named the National Museum of Kenya (NMK).
Karen Blixen Museum
Karen Blixen Museum was once the centre piece of a farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills owned by Danish Author Karen and her Swedish Husband, Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke. Located 10km from the city centre, the Museum belongs to a different time period in the history of Kenya. The farm house gained international fame with the release of the movie ‘Out of Africa’ an Oscar winning film based on Karen’s an autobiography by the same title.
The Museum is open to the Public every day (9.30 am to 6pm) including weekends and public holidays. Visitors are encouraged to be at the Museum by 5.30. Guided tours are offered continuously. A museum shop offers handicrafts, posters and postcards, the Movie ‘Out of Africa’, books and other Kenyan souvenirs. The grounds may be rented for wedding receptions, corporate functions and other events.
Nairobi Snake Park
Nairobi Snake Park was started in January, 1961 to meet a popular attraction and to provide a research facility on reptiles, breeding of snakes. Live snakes were exhibited on experimental basis at the entrance of the Museum in 1958 which later became a popular attraction.When the popularity was noted, a portion of land in front of the Museum and down to the Nairobi River was acquired by the Museum Trustees for the development of Botanical gardens and exhibitions on live snakes. This idea was developed further in 1959, when money was made available for a combined facility, Snake Park and Snake study centre surrounded by a botanical garden and war memorial garden on one end.
is a Portuguese fort built in 1591 by order of King Philip I of Portugal (King Philip II of Spain), then ruler of the joint Portuguese and Spanish Kingdoms, located on Mombasa Island to guard the Old Port of Mombasa, Kenya. It was built in the shape of a man (viewed from the air), and was given the name of Jesus. In 2011, the fort was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, highlighted as one of the most outstanding and well preserved examples of 16th-century Portuguese military fortifications.