In this article, we will focus on all Museums in Kenya. Museums in Kenya are managed by the National Museums of Kenya. NMK is a state corporation established by an Act of Parliament, the Museums and Heritage Act 2006.
National Museums of Kenya is a multi-disciplinary institution whose role is to collect, preserve, study, document and present Kenya’s past and present cultural and natural heritage. This is to enhance knowledge, appreciation, respect and sustainable utilization of these resources for the benefit of Kenya and the world, for now, and posterity. Here is a full list of all museums in Kenya.
List Of Museums In Kenya
1. Fort Jesus Museum
The Fort is located in Mombasa City along Nkurumah Road on the coast of Kenya. Fort Jesus is Mombasa’s most popular tourist attraction. The fort, which was built by the Portuguese in 1593 and was designed by Italian architect Giovanni Battista Cairati, has withstood the test of time. It was constructed to ensure the security of the Portuguese population residing on the east coast of Africa. The fort has survived numerous assaults and hostilities. It even served briefly as a prison. The fort is now a significant historical site and a museum.
People can now visit Fort Jesus as a museum to learn more about the small island and to see some of Mombasa’s historical buildings, such as Oman House, which served as the Sultan’s residence when he served as governor of the East African coast. An exhibition of artefacts from the excavations at Fort Jesus, Manda, the Gede ruins, and Ungwana can be found inside Fort Jesus.
2. Karen Blixen Museum
The Karen Blixen is situated at the foot of the Ngong Hills in the upscale Nairobi suburb of Karen. Out of Africa, an Oscar-winning film based on Karen’s life story put the farmhouse on the international map. All visitors have the opportunity to participate in continuously offered guided tours of the house and the coffee plantations. The house has rooms decorated with both the original décor and props from the 1985 film. The grounds, which feature original coffee farm equipment, are also open for tours. There is a gift shop alongside the grounds, which can be rented for weddings, corporate functions, and other events.
3. Kisumu Museum
Kisumu Museum is located in Kisumu, and the majority of its exhibits focus on the natural and cultural history of Western Kenya. Aside from human culture, the museum houses a diverse collection of flora and fauna species. A traditional Luo homestead and other traditional Luo artefacts are also part of the museum’s exhibits. Furthermore, Kisumu Museum is home to historical sites and monuments such as Fort Tenan, Songhor, Thimlich Ohinga, and Rusinga Islands.
4. Nairobi National Museum
The Nairobi National Museum is the flagship brand for the National Museums of Kenya, located on Museum Hill, along Kipande Road, Nairobi. Nairobi National Museum was established in 1910 by a group of naturalists under the then East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society who needed a place to keep and preserve their collections of various specimens. Up to date, the facility houses celebrated collections of Kenya’s History, Nature, Culture and Contemporary Art present for both educational and leisure purposes.
Other attractions within the Nairobi National Museums’ compound include Snake Park, Nature Trail, and Botanical Gardens as well as a State of the Art Auditorium that occasionally hosts concerts, film shows and other events. In addition, visitors are treated to a variety of shopping and dining facilities in the commercial wing.
5. Kitale Museum
The Kitale Museum is well-known for being Kenya’s first domestic museum. The museum houses items collected from Kenyan tribes such as the Luhya, Maasai, and Turkana. The museum displays traditional Kenyan weaponry, utensils, and native musical instruments used by these tribes. A nature trail located behind the museum is used to conserve various rare plants and animals. Visitors to the museum can get a taste of what it’s like to be inside a real Kenyan rainforest. The museum also houses Nile crocodiles, leopards, tortoises, and various poisonous snakes.
6. Narok Museum
Narok Museum is located in Narok, Kenya, and its exhibits focus on Maasai cultural heritage as well as that of Maa-speaking cultures such as the Samburu, Njemps, and Ndorobo peoples. The gallery’s exhibitions include 24 reproductions of Joy Adamson’s paintings, which depict the traditional lifestyle of Maa speakers. This collection was curated from her extensive collection of vibrant ethnographic portraits. Eight black and white photographs taken by Joy Adamson in Maasai land (Narok, Loita, and Amboseli) are displayed in the gallery, adding to the exhibit’s historical significance. The exhibition’s heart is also a collection of cultural artefacts.
7. Nairobi Gallery
The Nairobi Gallery is located at Kenyatta Avenue and Uhuru Highway roundabout next to Nyayo house. The historic building in which it is housed was built in 1913 and was the Old PC’s office building, affectionately known as “Hatches, Matches, and Dispatches” due to the births, marriages, and deaths recorded there. It is now a museum with a permanent collection based on the Murumbi African Heritage collection, which includes ancient sculptures, paintings, and everyday artefacts from various African cultures. These were gathered by Joseph and Sheila Murumbi, whose biographies can also be found in one of the galleries. In addition, the museum hosts exhibitions by both local and international artists.
8. Lamu Museum
The Lamu Museum is located in the Lamu Archipelago, which is a small group of isolated islands off Kenya’s northern coast near Somalia. It is made up of the islands of Lamu, Manda, Pate, and Kiwayu, all of which have a vibrant Swahili culture. The museum, which is housed in the Lamu Fort, first opened to the public in December 1971. The Lamu Fort is a massive two-story structure that was constructed between 1813 and 1821. The Fort served as a garrison for Baluchi soldiers sent by the Sultan of Oman and marked the southern border of the traditional stone town. Its protective presence encouraged settlement and development in its immediate vicinity.
Lamu Fort was given to the National Museums of Kenya in 1984 after serving as a prison for both the British colonial regime and the Kenya government from 1910 to 1984. The Swedish International Development Agency provided technical and financial assistance in establishing the Fort as a museum (SIDA). The general theme of the museum at the time of its inception was environmental conservation, as the Fort serves as a community centre for the people of Lamu’s old town. The Lamu Fort is typical of Swahili architecture from the 18th century. It houses an ethnographic collection from the Swahili, Orma, and Pokomo groups. There are archaeological displays depicting the Takwa Ruins excavations, carved headboards, throne chairs, and musical instruments, including the famous Siwa Horns, which are made of brass and resemble elephant tusks.
9. Malindi Museum
The museum in Malindi houses the famous Vasco Da Gama pillar. The structure is located along the seafront, just a few metres from the Malindi jetty and the fish market. It’s a charming old double-storey structure with a roof terrace covered in gleaming roof tiles. It is a 19th-century structure with a rectangular shape and a long veranda.
There are four main entrances to the building. Two of these entrances are located on the East façade and are reached via a colonnade of five rounded pillars on a square pedestal. One of them has a Gujerati 9 and the other has a Swahili-carved door. The third entrance is on the Northern façade, in the North-West quadrant, and is reached via a masonry stairway. It has an Indian-style small trap door that serves both the ground and first floors of the building. The other entrance, which is only for the first floor, is on the southern façade and is accessible via an exterior wooden staircase, which is a secondary addition to the building. This entrance’s door is simple, opening onto a balcony supported by rounded columns covered with a roof resting on dressed wooden supports. Temporary exhibitions are currently on display at the museum. The museum also serves as an information centre, where visitors can learn more about Malindi’s attractions and events.
10. Gedi Museum
Gede Ruins is a mysteriously abandoned Swahili village from the 12th century. It is now a National Museum, and the ruins are densely forested with beautiful indigenous forest trees such as baobabs and tamarind. A walk and a visit are both highly recommended. Look out for Syke’s Monkeys, as well as the Golden Rumped Elephant Shrew. A quiet, careful look in some of the old wells may also reveal an owl. Gede’s ruins are the remains of an Arab-African settlement found along the East African coast. The Swahili people built these towns in the 15th and 16th centuries.
By that time, Swahili had established trade relations with countries in the Middle East and India. Gede had a population of around 2,500 people at its peak of prosperity, according to experts. There are several theories as to why the town was abandoned in the 16th or 17th centuries. However, after Gede was abandoned, it remained undisturbed, giving nature time to reclaim the area. Gede’s ruins were rediscovered in the 1920s and designated as a Historical Monument in 1927. Since then, about 18ha of the site has been excavated, revealing the remains of several mosques, a palace, residential houses, and elaborate pillar tombs. Because it is hidden in the deep forest, the location is very atmospheric and mysterious.
Taking a guided tour of the ruins and museum will teach you a lot about the fascinating culture of the Swahili people and the ancient town they built. You can also walk along the nature trail network, which includes 40 different plant species and leads to smaller ruins scattered throughout the forest. Gede Ruins is also a great place to see wildlife. Forest birds such as Turacos, Malachite Kingfishers, Paradise flycatchers, and African Harrier Hawks can be seen from the A Rocha’s Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-tourism Scheme (ASSETS) tree platform. The Gede Ruins National Monument & Museum is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
11. Rabai Museum
Rabai is situated about 25 km northwest of Mombasa, off the Nairobi-Mombasa highway on Mazeras-Kaloleni road, about half an hour’s drive from Mombasa. The museum is housed in Kenya’s first Christian church building. Much of the museum is dedicated to the work of Johann Ludwig Krapf, who co-built the church with Johannes Rebmann. It is one of the most beautiful museums. word of advice, if you decide to go, choose the early hours, becouse there are a lot of people during the day and traffic is jammed. Today the church is still strong and some schools were built around the community.
12. Kapenguria Museum
Kapenguria is a town in Kenya located northeast of Kitale, near the Saiwa Swamp National Park. The town serves as the capital of the West Pokot District. Kapenguria is home to the Kapenguria Museum, which officially opened on September 19, 1993. The museum is a regional museum that reports to the Directorate of Museums, Sites, and Monuments of the National Museums of Kenya. The museum is housed in the prison where Kenya African Union (KAU) leaders Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kungu Karumba, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, Bildad Kaggia, and Ramogi Achieng Oneko were imprisoned after their sentencing in April 1953.
The KAU leaders and Mau Mau members were apprehended during Operation Jock Scott, a mass arrest operation carried out by the colonial government on the night of October 20/21, 1952. On December 3, 1952, Deputy Public Prosecutor Anthony Somerhough opened a court proceeding against the six KAU leaders (now known as the “Kapenguria six”). The defendants were charged with co-managing Mau Mau, a banned society that plotted to murder all white residents of Kenya.
The cells, ethnographic galleries, and Pokot homestead serve as the museum’s foundation. The museum’s exhibits include books and documents in a memorial library honouring all heroes who fought for Kenya’s independence. The Pokot gallery, founded by anthropologist Mrs Anny Mulder, houses artefacts and photographic collections about the Pokot people. Other items on display include cultural material of the Pokot, Cherangani, and Sengwer people, in addition to galleries reflecting Kenya’s political development and the country’s independence in 1963.
13. Kabarnet Museum
The Kabarnet Museum is located in Kabarnet town, Baringo county, Rift Valley province, approximately 265 kilometres northwest of Nairobi. The town is named after a French missionary named Barnet from Alsace. The region’s inhabitants are Tugen, a sub-tribe of the larger Kalenjn community. In their language, they added the prefix ‘ka,’ which means “homestead,” making Kabarnet – Barnet’s homestead. Since 1907, when the colonial government made it the seat of the local government, it has served as the administrative headquarters for the Baringo district.
The Kabarnet Museum was the first in the central Rift Valley. It first opened to the public in 1996. The museum is housed in the former Colonial and African District Commissioner’s office, which is thought to be the first permanent building in Baringo District, built by Italian POWs in 1930. The museum’s exhibitions feature ethnographic cultural materials such as agricultural tools, weapons, clothing, and jewellery of the Rift Valley people – the Keiyo, Marakwet, Samburu, Pokot, Nandi, and Kipsigis – as well as an overview of the district’s history from pre-colonial, colonial, and post-independence eras. There are various tree species on the museum grounds where visitors can observe various bird species in their natural habitat.
14. Kariandusi Museum
Kariandusi was one of the first Lower Paleolithic sites discovered in East Africa. There is enough geological evidence to suggest that large lakes occupied this basin in the past, reaching levels hundreds of metres higher than the current Lake Nakuru and Elementaita. Kariandusi is possibly the first Acheulian site discovered in East Africa, dating back 700,000 to 1 million years. Dr Leakey, a renowned palaeontologist, believed that this was an Acheulian period factory site. He reached this conclusion after discovering numerous collections of specimens in the Kariandusi riverbed.
The Kariandusi Museum is an excellent resource for learning about Kenya’s history. The museum is small but contains a wealth of information about the country’s history. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. If you want to learn about Kenya’s history, the museum is a must-see. The museum has a wide range of exhibits covering various aspects of Kenyan history. You will particularly enjoy the section on the country’s pre-colonial history. This was very informative and will give you a better understanding of the country’s history. You will also find the section on Kenya’s independence movement to be very interesting.
15. Hyrax Hill Museum
Hyrax Hill Museum has located 4 km from the central business district of Nakuru town and 152 Km from Nairobi city, approximately 400 meters from the Nairobi –Nakuru highway. It’s a great place to take the family on weekends or for school field trips. The admission fee is Ksh 500 for adults and Ksh 100 for children. When you arrive at the site, the first thing you notice is the beautiful view of Lake Nakuru from the hilltop. The view just takes your breath away. Hiking on a beautiful nature trail, camping, and exploring the museum’s artefacts are just a few of the activities available. The nature trail up the hill is the most favourite. This is an excellent team-building activity. We also like that the museum is housed in a bungalow rather than a large building like most museums. This one has a cosy feel to it. If you happen to be in Nakuru, you should stop by here.
16. Meru Museum
Meru Museum originated in 1974 in an old historic building that was vacated by the District Commissioner, whose office it had been in since the colonial days. The building housing the Meru museum dates back to 1916. In the colonial era, it served as an administrative node in the Mount Kenya region. The museum was a joint effort by the Meru Municipal and County Councils, together with the National Museums of Kenya in creating an attractive and formative centre useful to the local people and visitors. Aspects of the cultural and diverse history of the Meru people are well illustrated by the numerous displays. Two rather unusual amenities of the Meru museum are a garden of indigenous medicinal shrubs and herbs together with a theatre. A compound of traditional huts has been constructed on the grounds, which are included in tours of the museum. An outdoor platform for dancing and musical programs along with sales kiosks complete the exterior.
17. Narok Maa Museum
The Maa Museum was formerly a Community hall, which was transformed into a Museum comprising an office, collection room and exhibition gallery. The Maa Museum is located in a West-North-West direction 141 km from Nairobi at the entrance of Narok town. Learn about the Maasai culture and be taught a few words of their Maa language. This place has preserved the rich culture of the Maasai community through pictures and artefacts. Here the old meets the new. It’s a place you ought to visit to enjoy the maa culture artefacts.
18. Wajir Museum
The primary goal of this museum, which opened in 2011, is to provide a glimpse of Northern Kenya’s rich cultural, historical, and natural heritage, as well as its interaction with the rest of the world. It is home to an exhibition that depicts the traditions and customs of the communities who live in this part of Northern Kenya.
19. Tambach Museum
Tambach Museum is located in Tambach Town, Elgeiyo/Marakwet County, approximately 42 kilometres from Eldoret Town. The museum was officially opened to the public on 31st March 2012. Tambach is one of the oldest towns in Kenya. It was established in the 1920s as a British colonial centre for administering Elgeiyo and Marakwet people. This museum provides breathtaking views of the Elgeiyo and Tambach Escarpments, the Tugen Hills, and the Kerio River. It depicts the Kalenjin community’s cultural life and political structures. It also reflects the region’s status as a breeding ground for world-class long-distance runners.
20. Kenyatta House Lodwar
In the story of the struggle for Kenya’s independence, Turkana will never be forgotten. The nation’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, was detained by the British Colonialists in Lodwar and Lokitaung. In Lodwar, off Kenyatta Lane, stands the Kenyatta House where he was detained. So isolated from the epicentre of the struggle – Central Kenya – the town’s location was perfect for the Kapenguria Six (Jomo Kenyatta, Kung’u Karumba, Paul Ngei, Charles Rubia, Bilad Kaggai and Achieng Oneko) after their sentencing in the Kapenguria Court. Visit Kenyatta House and be immersed in Kenya’s history.
21. Nyeri Museum
This museum was once used as a “Native Law Court” and is housed in a national monument. Its goal is to highlight customary law cases previously handled by clan elders in villages. The museum houses an exclusive collection of artefacts depicting the Gikuyu community’s life and rich culture.
22. Desert Museum
The Desert Museum, Loiyangalani, which is located on top of a hill with a view of the picturesque Lake Turkana, also known as the “Jade Sea,” opened in June 2008. It focuses on the lives of the residents of the eight communities in the area. Turkana, El-Molo, Rendille, Samburu, Gabra, Watta, Borana, and Dassanach are the eight communities. In recognition of the unique cultures in this region and by its mandate to preserve and promote Kenya’s rich cultural and natural heritage, the National Museums of Kenya decided to establish a museum in the area.
Loiyangalani is a small town on the lake’s southeast coast. Loiyangalani, which means “a place of many trees” in Samburu, is also home to the El Molos, a nearly extinct community. The town grew from a freshwater spring and is known as an Oasis in the desert. Because of the unique desert environment and the rich cultural lifestyle of the people of Lake Turkana, it is quickly becoming a tourist attraction. An airstrip, post office, fishing station, campsites, and lodges are among the town’s amenities. The National Museums of Kenya, in collaboration with other partners, organize the Lake Turkana Festival, a cultural festival held annually in Loiyangalani to celebrate the culture of this region and to promote both local and international tourism.