Nairobi National Museum

nairobi

The Museum aims to interpret Kenya’s rich heritage and offers a one stop for visitors to sample the country’s rich heritage both for education and leisure. In addition to the museum, visitors are treated to a variety of shopping and dining facilities, as well as botanical gardens that offer a serene environment.
The museum is open on all 356 days throughout the year from 0830hrs -17300hrs.Nairobi National Museum is located at the Museum Hill, approximately 10 minutes drive from the Nairobi city centre accessible both by public and private means. Built in 1929, this is the flagship museum for the National Museums of Kenya, housing celebrated collections of Kenya’s History, Nature, Culture and Contemporary Art.

Historical Background

The 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).

hall of kenyaOn October 15th 2005, the Nairobi Museum closed its doors to the public for an extensive modernization and expansion project the outcome of which was an impresive and magnificient piece of architecture that puts it in competition with other world- class museums. The museum later re-opened in June 2008 as the Nairobi National Museum, and continues to draw visitors from all walks of life in appreciation of Kenya’s rich heritage.

The artworks and materials used in the fabrication of outdoor sculptures, the landscaping and the botanic gardens, link to the four pillars of Kenya’s national heritage i.e. nature, culture, history and contemporary art.

 

 

In addition to offering visitor’s with Kenya’s rich heritage, the museum is also well known as a unique events venue, for the appreciation of Kenya’s heritage amidst workshops, cocktails, conferences and other functions. For more information visit

Attractions

  • Art Gallery
  • Temporary Exhibitions
  • Botanical Gardens and Nature Trail
  • Shopping and dining facilities

Nairobi Snake Park

Introduction

Snake Park Front View
Snake Park Front View

Nairobi Snake Park is one of the NMK attractions located adjacent to Nairobi National Museum and is extremely popular with visitors.

 


 

 

 

 

Historical Background

Visitors at Snake Park
Visitors at Snake Park

The 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.

One of the Snakes
One of the Snakes

By the end of 1960, the Snake Park was almost completed using funds made available by the War Memorial Committee. The Snake Park was opened to the public in January 1961, as a centre for snake study before it transformed into a shelter for resqued reptiles and amphibians. It attracted a lot of interest from the public, researchers, conservationist and educators. Following its closure in August 2008, the snake park reopened a year later after undergoing a major lift. During the 2009/2010 financial year, about 123,000 visitors attended the park. In a bid to serve our visitors better, public programmes like octopus exhibition, interactive sessions with harmless reptiles and amphibians, exhibition on the birds of the Snake Park and feeding of crocodiles with live fish. Audio Visual transmission of information on exhibitions, are under way. The aquaria have been modified with a classy touch of beautiful art work for their finishing. It is your world class tourist destination!

 

Crocodile at the pit
Crocodile at the pit

Currently the Snake Park exhibits major groups,

  1. Invertebrates like Giant Snails, Baboon Spider ,Mombasa Train Millipede, Crayfish, Freshwater Prawns and
  2. Vertebrates like Fishes both Marine and Fresh water, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.

It is also offering services such as rescue and rehabilitation centre for reptiles (abandoned, confiscated, illegal collection), dissemination of information on aquarium fishes and reptiles as well as specialized talks on the same. To date, Snake Park has continued assisting the city residents of Nairobi in rescuing their residential areas by removing spotted house snakes and as well as giving advices on how to reduce possible snakebites within their homesteads. Snake identification service is also provided.

Located at a serene environment with a spacious compound, the Snake Park is an ideal place for relaxation by our visitors to enjoy the cool breeze.

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Nairobi Gallery

Historical Background

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.

Nairobi Gallery (Former Old PCs Office)
The Murumbi Collection exhibition is currently going on at the Nairobi Gallery, download the Murumbi Collection Brochure
Download Nairobi Gallery Brochure
For more information contact:
The Curator,
Nairobi Gallery
P.O.Box 40658- 00100, Nairobi.
Tel: +254-020- 2216566
Email:  curator.oldpc@museums.or.ke

Karen Blixen

karen_blixen_museum

Location and Historical Background
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.
Baroness Karen Blixen

The Museum was built in 1912 by Swedish Engineer Ake Sjogren. Karen and her husband bought the Museum house in 1917 and it become the farm house for their 4500 acre farm, of which 600 acres was used for coffee farming. Their marriage failed after eight years and in 1921 the Baron moved on and left the running of the farm to Karen. Karen lived at the house until her return to Denmark in 1931. The house farm was bought by Remy Marin, who broke the land into 20 acre parcels for development. Subsequent development created the present suburb of Karen. Records indicate that a Lt. Col.G. Lloyd, an officer of the British Army bought the house in 1935 and lived there until his death in 1954, when it passed to his daughters, Mrs. G. Robersts and Lavender Llyod.  A transfer of title to Mrs. J.P Robson and Mrs L.B. Hyde is in City Hall records in 1956.  The house was sporadically occupied until purchased in 1964 by the Danish government and given to the Kenyan government as an independence gift.

The government set up a college of nutrition and the Museum was initially used as the principal’s house. In 1985 the shooting of a movie based on Karen’s autobiography began and the National Museums of Kenya expressed acquired the house for the purpose of establishing a Museum. The Museum was opened in 1986.

 

Distant View of Karen Blixen Distant View of Karen Blixen

Karen also known by her pen name Isak Dinesen was born at Rungstedlund in Denmark on 17th of April 1885 as the second child of Wilhelm and Ingeborg Dinesen’s five children. She came to Africa in 1914 to marry her half cousin and carry out dairy farming in the then British Colony of Kenya. Her husband had however changed his mind and wanted to farm coffee. Her uncle Aage Westenholz financed the farm and members of both families were share holders. The coffee farm did not do well, suffering various tragedies including factory fire and continuous bad harvest. After her divorce, Karen was left to run the financially troubled farm on her own, a daunting task for a woman of that generation. She fell in love with an English man, Denis Finch Hatton, and his death in Tsavo in 1930 coupled with the failed farming left Karen little choice but to return to Denmark. She turned to writing as a career following her departure from Africa and published to increasing acclaim such works as Seven Gothic Tales(1934) Out of Africa(1937) and Babette Feat (1950). She died on her family estate, Rungsted, in 1962 at the age of 77.

karen_blixen_museum Karen Blixen Museum

The Karen Blixen house meets three of the customary criteria for historical significance. First, it is associated with the broad historical pattern of European settlement andcultivation of East Africa. Second, it is associated with the life of aperson significant to our past as the home of Baroness Karen Blixen from 1917 -1931. As such, it served as the setting and basis of herwell known book Out of Africa, written under the pseudonym Isak Dinesenand as a gathering place for other well known personalities of the period. Third, the building embodies the distinctive characteristicsof its type, period and method of construction. The house’s architecture is typical of late 19th century bungalow architecture,including the spacious rooms, horizontal layout verandas, tile roof and stone construction typical of scores of residences built throughout European suburbs of Nairobi in early decades.

The chronology of the house begins with its construction in 1912 by the wealthy Swedish civil engineer, later honorary Swedish consul to Kenya, Ake Sjogren. It served as the main residence on his Swedo-African coffee company , an estate of over 6,000 acres. The house was soon visited while on safari by the Danish count Mojen Frijs, who upon his return to Denmark persuaded his cousin to seek their fortune in Kenya.Baron Blixen acquired part of the estate in 1913 and the remainder in 1916. Karen Blixen called the house “Bogani” or “Mbogani” meaning a house in the woods, and occupied it until 1931.

By1985, with renewed interest in Karen Blixen occasioned by the film production of Out of Africa, an agreement was reach with the collage for the house to become part of the National Museums of Kenya. Many pieces of furniture that Karen Blixen sold to Lady McMillan on her departure were acquired back and constitute part of the exhibition in the Museum. The Museum house remains a serene environment that seems to belong to the past, surrounded by a tranquil garden and indigenous forest, with a splendid view of Karen’s beloved Ngong Hills. She honours the hills with the phrase ‘I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills’.

For further information contact.
The Curator
Karen Blixen Museum
P.O Box 40658- 00100 GPO, Nairobi.
Tel: 020- 8002139/ +254 736919321/ +254 722146193

Fort Jesus

The site is located in Mombasa Island which is in the Coast province of Kenya. It lies a distance of about 490-km from Nairobi city.

Historical Background

The Portuguese built Fort Jesus in 1593. The site chosen was a coral ridge at the entrance to the harbor. The Fort was designed by an Italian Architect and Engineer, Joao, Batista Cairato. The earliest known plan of the Fort is in a manuscript Atlas by Manuel Godinho de Heredia – dated 1610 which shows the original layout of the buildings inside the Fort.

Fort Jesus was built to secure the safety of Portuguese living on the East Coast of Africa. It has had a long history of hostilities of the interested parties that used to live in Mombasa. Perhaps no Fort in Africa has experienced such turbulence as Fort Jesus. Omani Arabs attacked the Fort from 1696 to 1698. The state of the Fort can be understood from the plan of Rezende of 1636 and other plans by Don Alvaro? Marquis of Cienfuegas and Jose? Lopes de Sa – made during the brief reoccupation by the Portuguese in 1728 – 1729. In the Cienfuegas plan, the names of the bastions are changed.

Between 1837 and 1895, the Fort was used as barracks for the soldiers. When the British protectorate was proclaimed on the 1st of July 1895, the Fort was converted into a prison. The huts were removed and cells were built. On the 24th October 1958, Fort Jesus was declared a National Park in the custody of the Trustees of the Kenya National Parks. Excavation was carried out and the Fort became a Museum in 1962. The Fort is now an important historical landmark in the East African region.

 

The Fort Jesus museum was built with a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation. The exhibits consist of finds from archaeological excavations at Fort Jesus, Gede, Manda, Ungwana and other sites. Other objects on display were donated by individuals notably Mrs. J.C. White, Mr. C.E. Whitton and Mrs. W.S. Marchant. The Fort has lived through the years of hostilities and a hush climate and is structurally well maintained.

Download Fort Jesus Museum Map

Download Mombasa Old Town Map

Open Daily at 8:00am – 6:00pm.

For more information contact:

P.O.Box 82412- 80100

Mombasa

Tel: 041- 2220058/ 2225934


Swahili Cultural Centre


The first Swahili Cultural Centre was established in Mombasa in 1993 as a joint project of the NMK, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Development

Malacology Unit


A Malacology Unit, based at the Fort, is a constituent branch of the Institute of Primate Research (IPR) in Nairobi. The staff collect wild snails from the field and test them for schistosomiasis parasites.

Mombasa Butterfly House


Just recently opened to public, the MBH is a Live Butterfly Exhibit which presents a paradise of tropical butterflies and invites you to enjoy natural environment, learn about biodiversity and its

Other Services


We do offer an ideal environment for events such as: Exhibitions, Picnic site, Reception, Photo/film shooting, Research & Lectures on Biodiversity/Environment conservation.

Lamu

Lamu Museums are located in the Lamu Archipelago on the N. Coast, one of the most beatiful & serene locations on the African continent and a World Heritage Site

The isolated island, with streets so narrow such that donkeys provide almost the only mode of transport makes the town quite unique.
Main museums are as shown below:

Lamu Museum

Historical Background

Lamu Museum

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.

For more information contact:

The Curator,
Lamu Museum
P.O.Box 48, Lamu.
Tel: 042- 633073/633402.

It served as a prison from 1910 to 1984 to both the British colonial regime and the Kenya government, before it was handed over to the National Museums of Kenya in 1984. Efforts to turn the Fort into a museum were started with technical and financial assistance from Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). With its inception as a museum with environmental conservation as its general theme; Lamu Fort is basically a community center for the people of Lamu old town.

The courtyard is available for weddings, meetings and theatre productions. At the ground floor there is a permanent exhibition which is divided into three major sections
(i) Marine
(ii) Freshwater
(iii) Terrestrial.
Each is further subdivided into its different ecosystem.

lamu_museum2The many exhibits on display represent the material culture of the various coastal peoples in the context in which the items are used. Upstairs there are administrative offices; laboratories, a workshop and a restaurant named Mazingira (swahili word for Environment) at the rooftop.

Lamu fort thus, has already acquired a strong identity as a World heritage centre.

Lamu Fort is a massive two storey stone structure located in Lamu Old town, Lamu District. It lies about 70 meters inland at the main jetty within Grid Reference 114 498 on the Lamu 1:50,000, Kenya Survey Map sheet No. 180/1.


Lamu-German Post Office Historical Background
German nationals Clement Denhardt and G. A. Fisher first made contact with the Lamu hinterland in the late 1870s. They soon struck a friendship with Ahmed Abdullah Simba, the Sultan of Witu, who at the time was having problems with the rulers of Lamu and Zanzibar and so welcomed a new ally. Shortly afterwards, Witu became a German protectorate.

This building was the first German Post Office ever established along the East African coast. The Post office was established on November 22nd 1888 by the Germans, led by Clement Denhardt. The communications and trade contacts for the German Protectorate in Witu could at the time be served through Lamu, a well-established town with links to the outside world.

The Post office operated for more than two years before its closure on March 3rd 1891 after the withdrawal of the German settlement in Witu.

German Post Office Museum is located in Lamu old town, Lamu district in Coast Province.


Lamu Fort Historical Background

Lamu Fort
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, for example it was at this time that some Lamu merchants erected the 19th century shopfront and buildings. By 1900 the Fort had become a central to the community, a role which it still plays today.

It served as a prison from 1910 to 1984 to both the British colonial regime and the Kenya government, before it was handed over to the National Museums of Kenya in 1984. Efforts to turn the Fort into a museum were started with technical and financial assistance from Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). With its inception as a museum with environmental conservation as its general theme; Lamu Fort is basically a community center for the people of Lamu old town.

The courtyard is available for weddings, meetings and theatre productions. At the ground floor there is a large exhibition space, which most recently hosted the first Environmental Museum in Africa. Upstairs there are administrative offices, laboratories, a workshop and a rooftop with impressive views over the town. There is also an excellent conference facility that is available for hire.

Lamu Fort is a massive two storey stone structure located in Lamu Old town, Lamu District. It lies about 70 meters inland at the main jetty within Grid Reference 114 498 on the Lamu 1:50,000, Kenya Survey Map sheet No. 180/1.


This museum gives visitors a glimpse of the traditional setup of a Swahili home

Architecture

Swahili House

Houses are usually oblong and built around a small open courtyard. The houses in the few remaining very traditional (and in the recent past poorer) towns such pate, are single- story building, but in a wealthier and crowded town, such as Lamu, most are two-storied and many have three stories, the structurally safe limit.A story is typically added when the occupying family expands by the marriages of its daughters, residence for the first marriages women being uxorilocal. In some grander houses the ground floor was occupied by slaves and used as warehouses, and the family members lived above. Drainage is an important consideration: houses have flat roofs and house drains send the often heavy rainfall into the streets drains, which empty into the sea. The traditional Swahili stone-built houses are complex structures, and here is the only barest outline, to show the house as part of a wide symbolic schema that lies at the base of Swahili notion of purity, ancestry, and status.

The axis of a typical house runs north and south. The entrance to the courtyard is properly at the north end and the owners private rooms are at the south end. The vagaries of the street layouts mean that a staircase from the front door may twist and change directions so as to end up in the right place. The northern end is referred to as upande wa kibla  ( the side of the kibla) , the northern and sacred end of a mosque. Houses and mosque should have the same orientations.

Open Courtyard

The traditional house is a very private place, its outside walls having only holes for ventilation. Light comes from the open courtyard. The entrance is through a large seat-lined porch (daka) raised a foot or two above the street, with a double wooden door traditionally elaborately carved and decorated with geometric or floral and leaf patterns and Quranic inscriptions. The double door opens directly onto an inner porch ( tekani) on the ground floor;  in two-story houses one half of the door opens  onto the inner porch and the other half onto a flight of stairs leading up one side of the courtyard to the upper floor. The porches are the limits of entrance to casual visitors. The inner porch gives onto the main inner courtyard (kawanda) , a word used for any open working place.

In larger houses, at least there is a well in the courtyard, and a bathroom and toilet in a small room off one of the corners. The main rooms are set to the south of the courtyard: in lamu rain almost never comes from the north. In single- story houses there is a typically a guest room (sabule) directly off the courtyard on the northern side of the inner porch, so that it is far from the main living quarters into which a guest cannot look. In larger houses the sabule is typically at the top of a staircase separate from the main family staircase, and has its own bathroom. In the absence of guests ( who are usually visiting kin or trading partners) , the head of the family may often sleep in the sabule, particularly when his wife has close female kin staying with her; they sleep in the main bedroom, the ndani. There is also typically a staircase leading up the north wall to the roof. Formerly slaves would sleep under the staircases, the space known as sarambi.

Guest room

On the southern side of the courtyard, facing north and Mecca, lie the living rooms of the owning family, opening directly off the courtyard. There are no separate livings, eating, or sleeping rooms (beds are merely placed in curtained alcoves (ngao) when needed). The rooms are arranged in a series of galleries (misana, single msana) set transversely between the east and west walls. Each inner gallery, farther back from the courtyard, has its floor set a step higher than the preceding level. Doorways are set in the intervening walls mark them from the courtyard and each other, so that to a visitor each set higher and is darker than the nearer one. There are formal ways of being invited farther into the interior of the house. The first of these galleries is a daytime area mainly for sitting  and conversing; this is the msana wa tini, the “lower gallery”.

Behind, except in smaller houses, is a second area, msana wa yuu, the “upper gallery”. Both galleries have high painted poles at the ends for the curtains of the sleeping alcoves. Beyond the upper gallery is the most private area, the ndani, “inside” (occasionally called the msana wa kati, “central gallery”), where the wife and husband sleep. This is par excellence the wife’s room. In grander houses these galleries are extremely high and cool, and often have small window-niches at the ends, in which are placed pieces of porcelain for show.

Behind the ndani are the choo, the bathroom-cum-toilet of the ndani, and a smaller space or room, the nyumba ya kati (center of the house), sometimes called chumba cha kati (central room). The bathroom is usually on the left side facing from the courtyard, the nyumba ya kati on the right: the left is polluting, the right not. Each may have its own doorway from the ndani. The latter room has (or has had) two main functions.

Kitchen

It is properly the place for childbirth, the preparation of corpses, and the seclusion of widows; and it was a place for storing the more precious trade good and valuables. It is furnished merely with a bed of the kind called ulili; it may have an exit, a hole blocked with loose removable stones, for passage of the corpse for burial, and a  small side door opening to the bathroom so that water can be brought into it easily. This room is found only on the main family floor. The room above is traditionally flat and on it may be a small pent house kitchen (jiko), with its own narrow internal staircase; or the kitchen may be placed in a corner of the courtyard below.

A father should give his daughter at her first marriage her own separate living accommodation linked to his own: either a story may be added, each story occupied by a separate elementary family or he may build or buy an adjoining house. When this is across a street, a bridge (wikio) is built to link the two houses: women can pass from one to the other without being seen from the street below. The working definition of a separate accommodation for each family is that it has its own bathroom-cum-toilet. water comes from wells and cisterns. The toilets are dry pits, vertical ducts set inside the walls; so long as they are kept dry, they are thick and lime-washed, and the ceilings are very high: these houses are cool and relatively dry even though the coastal climate is often very hot and humid.

Bedroom

These houses are not merely “machines for living in”: they are as much symbolic as technical structures. They represent the performance, stability, credit-worthiness, and purity of owning lineage. These qualities are expressed both in the solidarity and layout of parts of a house, and in its external and internal decoration. The outside walls are plain and undecorated, although properly lime-washed, except for the curved outer doors. These imposing gates cut off the outside public world from the private family world within and symbolize the disdain of patrician owners for all others of different rank and ancestry. The internal decoration may be extremely elaborate. There is a marked increase in privacy from the outer porch at one end to the main wife’s room, the ndani, at the other with the nyumba ya kati even more secluded behind that. This is associated not merely with the seclusion of women but essentially with the ndani as the ritual center of the house.

The first two galleries are separated by internal walls, each having two door ways; the wall of the ndani has only one central doorway, so that its interior cannot be seen from the first gallery or the courtyard. Walls have rows of wooden pegs for hanging rugs tapestries. Walls pillars and parts of the walls, as well as door jambs and lintels, are curved and decorated in plaster. The back walls of the msana wa yuu and particularly of the ndani are set with rows niches, vidaka or zidaka(diminutive forms of daka, the outer porch of the house), sent into the plaster. These inches are arched and so shaped that their roof are sloped higher at the back, so that the observer cannot see the join between the roof and back; the backs are also slightly angled relative to one another, so that there is only a single central place from which the entire wall panel can be viewed in proper perspectives. The niches are for displaying porcelain, manuscripts and wedding materials, copies of the Quran and other treasures. Beneath the rows of niches, in the center, is typically a blank rectangle where is placed a bed on which a bride is presented on her wedding. The observer stand in the upper gallery, from which they can best see her seated and surrounded by the beauty of the niches and their contents. In the past rooms occupied by slaves were not plastered but those occupied by free persons had to be, even if they lacked niches: plaster is associated with purity.

Malindi Museum

Historical Background

vasco_dagama_pillar

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.
Thomas Alfree bought the house from a grant to the Marine Division of the Fisheries Department for purposes of establishing a Kenya Marine Fisheries Station in Malindi. Unfortunately, Alfree in his autobiography is silent on the date he signed the lease agreement of 99 years but definitely must have been during the first half of British Colonial period in Kenya.

After occupation by Fisheries department, the building became the office for Kenya Wildlife Services before it was handed over to the National Museums of Kenya in 1999. On 10th May 2004 the building opened its doors to the general public as Malindi Museum.
Description of the Building
The building is a charming old double – storey structure with a roof terrace covered with roof tiles and is situated along the seafront, on an excellent site, some few meters from Malindi jetty and Fish Market. It is a veranda building, a building type of the 19th century with features identical to the Malindi District Commissioner?s Building. It is rectangular measuring Ca. 12.9 x 18.7 metres and 12 meters to the highest point of the roof. The perimeter walls are ca. 65 cm thick made of plaster over lumps of coral set in lime mortar.
The building has four entrances. Two of them are on the east façade reached through a colonnade of 5 rounded pillars on square pedestal. One entrance is fitted with a Gujerati 9and the other with a Swahili carved door. The third entrance is on the northern façade at the N/W quadrant reached through a flight of a masonry stairway. It has a small trap door of the Indian type serving both the ground and the first floor of the building. The fourth entrance, exclusively for the first floor, is on the southern façade and is reached through an exterior wooden staircase, which evidently is a secondary addition to the building. The door to this entrance is simple and opens onto a balcony supported by the rounded columns covered with a roof resting on dressed wooden supports.
From the balcony, a door leads into the first floor unit through a corridor with two rooms on both side organized in such a way that they are directly opposite one another with beautifully carved Bajuni doors.
At the back of the corridor is another door opening onto the back of the first floor level where a landing to the terrace, circulation space and toilet facilities are organised. From the landing there are two staircases; one leading up to the original terrace (now the library); the second staircase leads down to the ground floor or out of the building through a side entrance organized at the N/W quadrant of the north façade, discussed as the third entrance above.
Onversely, the original plan might have divided the building into two separate units all entered through the front facade. The ground floor unit was perhaps exclusively through the Indian door which opened onto three parallel long rooms one behind the other (probably used as a shop and store); while the first floor unit was through the Swahili door opening onto a corridor of two room deep leading to a masonry staircase and up to the first floor of the building and the terrace (the residential area). If this was the situation, then the idea that the exterior wooden staircase and the two doors along the south façade being secondary addition to the building is valid.
The museum currently houses temporary exhibitions. The museum also doubles as an information centre where visitors are able to find more information on attractions and happenings in Malindi. It is all about Malindi under one roof.

For more information contact:

The Curator
Malindi Museum
P.O.Box 939-0800 Malindi.
Tel: 042- 31479

Kisumu

Location and Historical Background

Kisumu Homestead

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.
kisumu_homesteadResearch activities also feature prominently. In recent years, the Kisumu museum has participated in multinational investigation on limnology (a scientific characteristic of fresh water lakes) of Lake Victoria conducted from the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) at Mbita in Kisumu.

Kisumu museum is also a gravity point for seminars and workshops both international and local. Attached to Kisumu museum are a number of sites and monuments of historical significance including Fort Tenan, Songhor, Thimlich Ohinga and Rusinga Islands.

 


Sites and Monuments in Kisumu

TOM MBOYA MAUSOLEUM

tom_mboya_musoleumIt was built in honour and remembrance of the late Tom Mboya. This is a burial place of Tom Mboya. It has information on the family, and Luo history. Tom Mboya’s role as an international agent of Kenyan government is also presented. The transfer of this mausoleum to the care and protection of the National Museums of Kenya has led to its proper management and conservation.The Mausoleum will form an infrastructure of the greater museum to come on the Rusinga Island.

 

 

KANAM PREHISTORIC SITE

kanam_prehestoric_siteKanam is situated along the shores of Lake Victoria on Homa Peninsular around Homa Mountain. The site was gazetted in August 1933. In 1932, Louis Leakey’s expendition discovered a fossil human mandible together with Pleistocene fauna and pebble tools in the early Pleistocene Kanam beds at Kanam West. Initially, it was thought to be australopithecine. Doubts were thrown against this specimen, and Leakey suggested that the fossil was that of Homo sapiens but later Leakey supported Sir A. Keith?s view of australopithecine. Today, they are seen to be Neanderthaloid. Recently, researchers found palaeontological bones dating between 1 and 6 million years ago at the site.

 

SIMBI NYAIMA
simbi_nyaimaSimbi Nyaima means the village that sank. Simbi Nyaima is actually a crater lake a few kilometers from the shores of Lake Victoria. The Luo attach great importance to the site because of the legendary story. It is said that the people of Simbi were celebrating their success at the chief’s home. An old woman appeared at the scene looking for shelter and food. But the chief threatened to beat her up if she stayed. She was forced to leave and one lady sympathized with her and gave her food and a warm bath. She advised the kind lady to leave the village with all her children and husband.

No sooner had they left than a heavy storm swept the whole village and it sank. The locals believe it happened in the olden days.

 

 

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For more information contact:

The Curator,
P.O.Box 1779- 40100
Kisumu
Tel: 057-2020 332 / 0412 004 975

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Kisumu Newsletter Issue 1
Kisumu Newsletter Issue 2

Kitale

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 Kitale Museum has a lot of ethnographical materials collected from surrounding ethnic groups in addition to Stoneham’s collections.

The museum now practice environmental conservation. It has a nature trail and Olof Palme Memorial Agroforestry – center, which was started in 1983. Its aim (the center) was to promote agroforestry in West Pokot district.

 

The museum’s nature trail was worked on beginning in August 1977. The work involved building bridges and cutting steep sides of the stream bank through which the trail runs.

The period from July 1974 until June 1975 had been spent in acquisition of materials for the museums exhibits. In April 1987, the museum acquired 30 acres of a natural riverine forest. The forest has been used for conservation of various plant species and wild animals.

From Col. Stoneham’s extensive Lepidoptera collection, scientists in Western Kenya specimens can access them in study given the excellent manner and organization that they have been handled with.

The Education department in Kitale museum has been organizing programs for Secondary schools and colleges where various people have given lectures and relevant films have been screened.

 

Geographical Location

Kitale museum is located at (233, 124) on the grid of Top Sheet 75/3. Kitale is in Trans-Nzoia district of the Rift Valley province. The museum is within the town about 1 km from the town center. The town itself is about 380 km from Nairobi the capital city. It lies Northwest of Nairobi.

 

 

For more information contact:

The Curator

Kitale Museum

P.O.Box 1219- 30200 Kitale.

Tel: 054-30996

Desert Museum

Geographical Location and Historical Background


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.

 


The town was formed from a freshwater spring and can be termed as an Oasis in the desert. It is fast becoming a tourist attraction due to the unique desert environment coupled with the rich cultural lifestyle of the peoples of Lake Turkana. Some of the amenities in the town include:

 

 

 

 

  • Airstrip
  • Post Office
  • Fishing Station
  • Campsites
  • Lodges

The communities living in this area include the; El Molo, Turkana, Pokot, Rendile, Samburu, Gabbra, Watta and Dassanach.

Activities and attractions:

  • Desert Museum
  • Rock Art
  • El Molo Village Tours
  • El Molo Shrines
  • Lake Turkana
  • Beach
  • Local Market
  • Camping
accomidation Rock Art
Accomodation Rock Art

 

In a bid to promote both local and international tourism, the National Museums of Kenya in collaboration with other patners, organize the Lake Turkana Festival, a cultural festival held annually in Loiyangalani, to celebrate the culture in this region.

Breath Taking Lake Turkana
Breath Taking Lake Turkana