The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Collection Registry was operationalised in 2011, with the appointment of the first ever Collection Registrar. It is domiciled in the Directorate of Research and Collection and vested with the core function of coordinating collections management activities in all the institutional repositories and display galleries. The section is responsible for managing information associated with the collections and ensuring access by end-users.
Types of collection and use
Biological and palaeontological specimens form the basis for research on distribution, evolution, and speciation. Together with associated metadata, these collections give basic information on life history and traits of organisms thus availing critical baselines for conservation and resource management. Archeological and anthropological artifacts on the other hand illustrate the evolution of culture and technology through human history.
Summary statistics of NMK collections
DIRECTORATE FOR ANTIQUITIES, SITES AND MONUMENTS
CENTRAL & WESTERN HERITAGE CENTRES
Museum Number of Collections Nature of Collection
Nairobi (Casting) 260 Painted Positive Casts
Nairobi (Casting) 3,200 Molds
Meru438Ethnographical, live reptiles & primates
Kitale 3,331 Live reptiles & Ethnographical
Kisumu 2,233 Live reptiles & Ethnographical
Kapenguria 200 Ethnographical
COAST HERITAGE CENTRES
Fort Jesus 356, 970 Archaeological, Ethnographical, Library
Workshops and trainings
Collection management seminars, workshops and conferences (Dates and schedules announced on case-by-case basis)
Dr. Alfreda K. Ibui-Registrar of Collections
Dr. Francis Oruya- Principal System Analyst/Prog.
Mrs. Mary Nyateng- ICT Assitant
Mr. Henry S. Saitabau- DRC Administrative Assistant
Miss Diana Kathambi- Volunteer
The Department of Zoology within the Directorate of Research and Collections is a department currently organized into six Sections: Ornithology, Mammalogy, Invertebrate Zoology, Ichthyology, Herpetology, and Osteology. Each section holds specimen collection of the respective taxonomic groups and a number of research programs are run within each section.
To collect, document, preserve, study and present Kenya’s past and present natural heritage, and enhance knowledge, appreciation, respect, management and use of these resources for the benefit of Kenya and the world.
The main objective of Zoology Department is to enhance the conservation of irreplaceable biodiversity (invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians, fishes, birds and mammals) through conducting action-oriented research, taxonomic studies, monitoring, training, documenting and disseminating information on faunal biodiversity and their habitats and managing Kenya’s priceless collection of faunal natural heritage. To this end, Zoology Department holds collections of international repute and importance in Ornithology, Mammalogy, Invertebrate, Ichthyology, Herpetology, and Osteology sections, and has been at the fore front of African research in these fields.
The department collaborates with other national and international institutions and professionals in order to enhance quality of scientific results. The Zoology Department presently has sixty staff: 37 researchers, 21 technicians, and four support staff. In addition, there are 8 research fellows. Each Section has its own staff who in addition to implementing the department’s research programs, also actively build and curate collections, train graduate and undergraduate students, develop exhibits and other public programs, and serve the diverse needs of the public and scientific communities.
Collection Management (Curation)
Our natural history collections is one of the most extensive natural history collections within the continent, contains materials covering important groups within the animal kingdom. Our specimen collection boasts over 2 million invertebrates, 30,000 bird study skins, mammals (21,000), fish (43,000), reptiles and amphibians (30,000).
The Zoology Department also manages Kenya’s priceless collection of wet tissues, blood, nests, eggs, and skeletons (12,000) and is rated as the best in Africa. Our reference collections are used by researchers from all over the world for taxonomical studies (including DNA studies), medical studies, agricultural studies, forensic sciences, and for reference by researchers, visiting students, tourists and artists. The collection is also a depository for collections from other parts of Africa
Research and Monitoring
Zoology Department is involved with research on faunal diversity including the identification of species and ecosystems in Kenya and the sustainable monitoring of biological components of biodiversity. The Zoology department develops and implements research in a range of aspects of the science of faunal biodiversity management and conservation. In collaboration with many national and international institutions, the department runs a busy schedule of research programs, mainly on threatened species and their habitats.
These research programmes are as a result of global challenges such as those highlighted by Millennium Development Goals, Conservation of Biological Diversity (CBD), and International Agreements for Sustainable Use and Conservation of Natural resources and the Environment. Research results from the department also contributes to internal conventions and agreements e.g. the CITES, Ramsar, CBD etc that aim at protecting our ecosystems through various programs.
Education, Training, Public Awareness and Information Dissemination
The Zoology Department provides specialized training at several levels to strengthen the national capacity to conduct zoological research work and to acquire, process, store and disseminate information on biodiversity to the public through exhibitions, publications, and specially organized education programmes through its state of art research and teaching. Zoology department also help in contribution of technical skills and information resources to the general public and scientific community. The department assists in the development of exhibitions at the Nairobi National Museums and elsewhere both in the country and world at large.
|Dr. Asha Owano–The Resource Centre Manager|
MESSAGE FROM THE RESOURCE CENTRE MANAGER
The NMK Resource centre maintains a comprehensive reference collection for research. The objectives of Resource Centre are to collect, organize, preserve, disseminate and improve access to information in support of the institutions mandate in order to facilitate research and develop a one stop shop for information resources. The center has two operational sections i.e. Library and Archives which hold indispensable resources for research, exhibition development, and educational programmes among others. I together with NMK fraternity urge everyone to visit NMK libraries and archives country wide to realize the importance of information. Join us and be part of this family.
The Directorate of Research and Collection (DRC) is the research arm of NMK which is vested with the core function of conducting research on the cultural and natural heritage of the country as well as collecting and managing the national collection. The Directorate has existed since the concept of a museum in Kenya was started with collections by the early nature enthusiasts. The current Directorate’s name came into being after the last organizational restructuring which was implemented in 2007.
The DRC is vested with the mandate of developing and implementing research projects that are focused on a sustainable use, conservation and preservation of Kenya’s heritage. The collection that arise from the research and collection activities are identified, deposited and curated in the directorates’ repositories. These form the core of national reference collection of natural as well as cultural heritage and are the basis for education, research and conservation in the various fields covered.
Research activities and programmes undertaken in the Directorate result in a steady stream of scholarly publications, a wealth of grey literature and increased national reference collection which is currently estimated over four million. Capacity for research comprises some 35 Doctorate and over 57 Master degree level officers. The Directorate, furthermore, plays a key role in education, training and public awareness. It provides specialized training at several levels to strengthen the national capacity to conduct heritage research work. A significant number of research staff members are often called upon by local universities to offer specialized courses whose expertise is only available at NMK.
Through its grant-making activities, the Directorate contributes to the fund raising initiative of the organization. The directorate is responsible for Kenya’s international/ Multilateral Environmental agreements and conventions, namely Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna. NMK serves as the Scientific Authority for Ramsar convention for which is the National Focal Point. In order to perform its roles effectively, the Directorate of Research and Collections has the following six research departments:
To enhance appreciation of the natural and cultural diversity of Kenya by organizing and disseminating NMK collections and collection information for research, education and recreation.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
The Department of Earth sciences is one of the core Research Departments of the National Museums of Kenya. The department has four main Objectives, namely:
- Carrying out Paleontological, Archaeological, Palynological/ Palaeobotanical and geological research both field and laboratory based.
- Documentation, management and conservation of Palaeontological, Archaeological Palynological/ Palaeobotanical and geological collections for future reference and comparative studies
- Dissemination of scientific information to the scientific community and the public in general
- Training both local and international university students specializing in palaeontology, Archaeology, Geology, palynology/ palaeobotany and other related fields.
The Department is internationally recognized for its contribution in prehistoric studies and has one of the largest and some of the best collections found the world over.
We strive to unearth human ancestry in the context of geological and environment history.
To be a centre of excellence in earth sciences research for development.
Following a request by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) the Kenya government set up the Center for Biodiversity (CBD) at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). The center role was to coordinate country studies and direct its subsequent operations in consultations with the relevant government bodies with Kenya’s ratification toon the convention on biological diversity (CBD), demands on the center have intensified and its coordinating role of NMK’s multidisciplinary biodiversity research and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) become more active. The center also acts as an interface between biological science and other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and economics
To help fulfill national obligations to biodiversity conservation by developing a research and action programs that will gather, analyze and disseminate biodiversity information required for sustainable utilization of biological resources.
- Contact a country wide inventory of key components of Kenya‘s biodiversity selected for their economic and ecological importance.
- Develop capacity to analyze biological data in order to identify key sites of biodiversity interest within Kenya and use this to provide and distribute comprehensive and factual information to those charged with making land use decisions.
- Develop quantifiable sampling protocol for focal groups and establish permanent sampling plots in order to identify and monitor activities, which have an impact on biodiversity.
- Using taxonomic and field based knowledge, studies selected organisms and there biological environment, inorder to advice the formulation of effective and sustainable conservation policy.
Conventions addressed by the Centre
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- Global Strategy for Plants Conservation
- Global Taxonomy Initiative
- Africa pollinator Initiative.
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and flora (CITES)
- Ramsar Convention
The functions of the Centre for Biodiversity are fulfilled under the following sections:
- Molecular genetics
- Marine and Wetlands
- Coastal Forest Conservation Unit
Research Projects and activities
- KIPEPEO Butterfly farming
A community based enterprise that markets and sells products from Arabuko Sokoke forest including butterfly pupae, honey and mushroom
- A forest Butterfly Exhibition at Mombasa: Promoting sustainable useof coastal biodiversity.
A proposed butterfly house to be built at Fort Jesus will comprise an additional and secure market for Arabuko Sokoke butterfly farmers as well as an opportunity to exhibit and showcase coastal diversity and cultural values
- Kwale Forest Landscape Project.
Gazettment of additional Kaya forest sites and strengthening of the management structure including demarcation of sites. It also aims to improve the livelihood activities of local communities
- Sustainable harvesting and resilience of Cyperus papyrus in wetlands of Kenya.It’s a PhD project which aimsat investigating sustainableharvesting regimes and population genetic diversityof papyrus for conservation purposes
Strategic Development Partners in Research and Capacity Building
- Global Environmental Facility (GEF)
- Royal Netherlands Embassy
- Smithsonian Institute
- BIOTA-Zoologisches Forschungs museums Alexander Koenig (ZFMK)
- National Research Organization
A brief of the Botany Department
The National Museums of Kenya underwent structural evolution in 2005 meant to improve governance, accountability and performance which led to adjustments of the administrative units even at the departmental level. The historical East African Herbarium established in 1902 was no exception having been retained as a sub-department, and together with Nairobi Botanic Gardens, now form the Botany Department.
Despite the changes, the primary role of the EA herbarium as a reference for collections of plants and fungi, tool for species identification and arbitration of authentic names, and as a comprehensive databank of the regional flora has been upheld. These functions are addressed through seven sections key among them being the Taxonomy and Curation, which includes Bryophytes, Non Seed Vascular species, Rosids, Asterids and Monocots sub-units.
This section, complimented by mycology, is responsible for basic taxonomic and evolutionary research using various taxonomic evidences such as morphology, anatomy, molecular and herbarium collections data to revise specific plant groups in contribution to monographs and floras in the region such as Flora of Tropical East Africa (FTEA). They also provide advice in related fields including species conservation, ecology, phytochemistry and pharmacology. Above all, the section oversees the routine curation duties such as incorporation of incoming collections, update of species names according to taxonomic changes and general management of the close to one million voucher collections.
The rich botanical collection attracts many researchers around the world who visit to study the specimens in a serene and user-friendly setting. Some notable collections from Africa include those by C.G. Ehrenberg (1825) from Eritrea, W.P. Schimper and T. Kotschy (between 1837 and 1863) from Ethiopia, W.C.H. Peters (1842-1848) from Mozambique and O. Warnecke (1900-1901) from Togo. In East Africa, major contributions have been by F. Stuhlmann (1888-1901), W. Busse (1900-1904), A. Zimmermann (1902-1918), P.J. Greenway (1928-1958), P.R.O Bally (1938-1950), B. Verdcourt (1958-1964) and J. B. Gillett (1964-1971). Local botanists in collaboration with visiting scientists have intensified national plant explorations in various ecosystems since 1970s. Most of the recent collections have been obtained from the coastal forests and eastern Arc mountains, montane and afro alpine (including Mounts Kenya, Elgon and Aberdares) and lowland rainforest (Kakamega Forest) ecosystems. The collection numbers are expected to increase tremendously following focused studies on cryptogamic plants and fungi in the last 10 years.
The other complimentary sections in the EA herbarium include the Ex Situ Conservation, In Situ Conservation, Economic Botany, Education and Training, and Documentation and Information dissemination. The Ex Situ Conservation section has sphere-headed plant seed collection, research and long term banking (usually over 500 years) since 1992. The priority has been conservation and propagation of threatened flora. The section in partnership with national stakeholders dealing with plant germplasm and Millennium Seed Bank, Kew have been able to collect and banked seeds of over 2000 species of national conservation priority. This gigantic efforts coupled with In Situ conservation (also manages soil ecology laboratory) functions of studying the natural plant population dynamics and restoration of degraded forests, mitigates loss of species in the face of climate changes.
The sections on Economic Botany and Information and documentation are central in gathering and dissemination of data on plants. Field label database of close to 80,000 plant specimens indicating species localities and uses has been captured in user-friendly software (Botanical Research and Herbarium Management System). Together with the enormous literature held in the herbarium library, the database will increasingly be instrumental in planning future botanical explorations and plant biodiversity conservation studies, as well as predicting changing climatic patterns following historical shift of plant phenology. The education and training section coordinates specialized courses in herbarium techniques and supervises students on attachment.
The Nairobi Botanic Garden maintains a living collection of medicinal, food, rare and threatened plant species displayed in various units such as Succulent Garden and Orchid house. Other functions include management of the plant nursery and landscaping of the gardens. It also undertakes a public education programme in specialized fields such as environmental conservation. The Botany Department has collaborated with national, regional and international partners in pursuit of the above objectives. National collaborators include Kenya Agricultural Institute, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Forest Research Institute, National Council of Science and Technology and various universities. The regional institutions include National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Makerere University Herbarium, Dar es Salaam University and Tropical Research Institute in Tanzania. Some of the international collaborators include: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, British Museums of Natural History, Missouri Botanic Gardens, St Louis, Chicago Field Museums, Brussels, Eger and various universities (e.g. Edinburgh, Miami, Cape Town, Oslo, Kwa Zulu Natal, Koblenz-Landau and Reading)
The garden is situated 1.5 kilometers from Nairobi city centre, at the Nairobi Museum ground. As a living collection, it enhances outdoor learning, using live plants. The garden is laid out in
The section disseminates well-packaged botanical information to researchers, students and other visitors. Our main clientele are students from tertiary colleges such as technical institutions and