Collection Registry


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.

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.


  • To monitor that collections are stored in a safe, secure environment that is pest free and conserved using appropriate techniques.
  • Safekeeping of collections records and their maintenenace in good and updated condition.
  • Coordinate development and maintenence of electronic data storage of all NMK collections.
  • In liason with Public Relations and Marketing and ICT departments, ensuring that links to collection databases with appropriate safeguards are created in the website to increase public access to information.
  • Establishing a system of ready retrieval and dispatch of information.
  • Attending to queries and requests for information on collections and specimens.
  • Monitoring the transfers of specimens and initiating retrieval of those overdue.
  • Advising Director, Research and Collections, on all matters relating to management of collections data.

Types of collection and use
NMK’s collections date over 100 years and range in size from Microscopic slides to large skeleton mammals and fishes collected from various locations of Kenya and East Africa.

  • Biological collections consist mainly of preserved botanical and zoological specimens including; plant, mammalogical, herpetological, ornithological, ichihyological and palynological specimens. Live specimens of plants are cultivated in the botanic garden at the Museums headquarters while fishes and insects are kept at departmental aquaria and insectaries, respectively. Most of the collections are backed up by a fast-growing collection ofDNA samples.
  • Archaeological collections consist of artifacts, ecofacts, features and in-situ specimens at various heritage sites.
  •  Palaeontological collections comprise of fossils, casts and in-situ specimens gazette as national sites and monuments.
  • Ethnographical collection comprise historical and ethnographic objects
  • Library collections consist of books, journals and reprints.
  • Archival collections consist of NMK and official Kenya government records as well as special collections of field study reports and manuscripts.

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

DepartmentNumber of CollectionsComparison to the global collection
 Botany 1 007 000 Live specimens of endangered, endemic and useful plants are maintained in the Botanic Garden
 Cultural Heritage 50 000Contains cultural heritage materials from all Ethnic groups in Kenya
– a great resource in National Unity/Identity building.
 Earth Sciences 1 316 056This includes the largest fossil collection in Africa and richest Hominin fossil collection in the world.
 Resource Centre 3 617 018This includes the second most important public archive in Kenya, after the Kenya National Archives.
The library is jointly managed with Nature Kenya, The East Africa Natural History Society


 3 149 099The zoology collection is the largest in Tropical Africa.
Specimens are maintained under respective taxonomic units; Birds (30,000), Mammals (30,000), Fishes (48,500, Herpeto-fauna (28,500) and (invertebrates (3 million).
An additional 12,091 modern bone specimens are maintained in the osteology section.



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



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