First time in Kenya? If yes, then the Nairobi National Museum should be top of your list of must see places in the country. Located at the Museum Hill (couldn’t have been more descriptive), about 10 minutes drive from Nairobi city centre, and accessible both by public transport and private car, the museum was built in 1929 and is iconic for Kenya’s National Museums, housing bespoke collections of the country’s history, culture, environment and contemporary art.
The idea of a Kenyan museum took shape in 1910, when a group of naturalists and members of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society (now the East African Natural History Society (EANHS)), who were in need of a place to keep and preserve their collections. The initial location of the Nairobi National Museum was in today’s Nyayo House. Soon the location became too small to accommodate all the various findings of the enthusiastic scientists, and a larger building was erected in 1922. Today the Nairobi Serena Hotel stands on that spot.
Seven years later, in 1929, the colonial government cleared land for the museum’s construction on Museum Hill. Initially named Coydon Museum, in honour of Sir Robert Coydon, one-time Governer of Kenya, the museum was opened to visitors on 22nd September 1930. 33 years later, after Kenya gained its independence, it was renamed the National Museum of Kenya (NMK).
In mid October 2005, the Nairobi National Museum closed its doors for modernisation and expansion, the stunning results of which have turned it into a world-class museum. It re-opened in June 2008 under its current name and it continues to attract thousands of visitors every year.
For those of you who are particularly interested in anthropology, the museum hosts a skull exhibition displaying pieces from the earliest ages of humankind. Apart from that, you can also get a glimpse of fossils and gain valuable insights about various ethnic groups and tribes, artworks and traditions.