The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) was founded in 1910 by the then newly formed East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society. NMK is now a state corporation established by the National Museums and Heritage Act, 2006, and falls under the Ministry of Sports Culture and the Arts. The organization has over the years served as the epic center of Kenya`s heritage, where heritage treasures such as the National Monuments, Ancient Historical sites, Cultural and Natural history collections are preserved, maintained and managed for the benefit of future generations.
Over the last century the NMK has accumulated collections of virtually all the floral and faunal species from various biomes, and cultural artifacts numbering over 4.6 million viz: Zoological (3,136,000), botanical (1,007,000), cultural (50,000) and prehistoric (1,315,902). These large and diverse number of collections resulted from thousands of often breathtaking and treacherous field expeditions covering the length and breadth of the country.
In addition, some of these collections are from the larger East and Central African region. Generally, the collections constitute one of the largest natural and cultural heritage materials in the African continent and beyond. Furthermore, the prehistoric collections with over one thousand early hominid fossils represent the largest single collection in the world hence entitling Kenya the Cradle of Mankind status.
The NMK cultural and natural collections, currently over 5 million, span a period of over 100 years and are utilized by researchers in diverse fields. The collection-based research activities at the NMK results in scholarly publications and a wealth of information that is relevant for national economic development. It also plays a key role in education, training and public awareness through provision of specialized training at several levels.
The prehistoric material particularly, which includes over 1,000 early human fossils, represents some of the world’s finest remains of early humans. They tell, step by step, the story of humans from early ancestors to intelligent technological beings. Kenya’s archaeological record is outstanding world-wide with the discovery of the earliest stone tools (3.3 million years old).
It is significant that NMK also holds the largest single existing collection of Kenya’s natural history. This collection includes the second largest herbarium and invertebrates’ collection in tropical Africa, which also constitutes a significant number of rare, unique and threatened species of plants and animals. In addition, the cultural history collections comprises of a large collection of iconic and artistic objects/work, which highlights Kenya’s rich heritage.
Construction of actual storage facility
A world-class collection centre with modern laboratories, storage spaces and equipment will promote the conservation of the unique heritage collections under the custodianship of the National Museums of Kenya.
NMK has a vast collection of natural history specimens in its vaults and laboratories that are largely unknown to the Kenyan public. Only less than 3% of these specimens are displayed to the public.
The work and processes in collection-based research and conservation is mired in mystery to the non-scientists hence the need to create a space that visitors could interact with the scientists at work. This will no doubt promote interest in research.
We look forward to breaking ground very soon and will keep you, our reader, updated with progress on this project. We will soon start our fundraising efforts towards building this world class collection center, which will be the first of its kind in Africa.
There are many ways to donate, from one-off gifts to more regular support.