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Location and Historical Background PDF Print E-mail
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Location and Historical Background
Page 2

Karen Blixen Museum
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.
 

Baroness Karen Blixen
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.