Recently, the world celebrated the International Day of Museums with the 2019 theme ‘Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition’.
I tried asking a couple of my people whether they still enjoy going to museums and all but a majority prefer more upbeat places, not realizing how they can also be cool places to hang out at. I love museums and the great history housed within.
In the few countries that I’ve been to, the museums are well taken care of and it is always a wonderful experience going around, learning and taking photos. The role of museums in society is changing. Museums keep reinventing themselves in their quest for becoming more interactive, audience-focused, community-oriented, flexible and adaptable.
They have become cultural hubs functioning as platforms where creativity combines with knowledge and where visitors can also co-create, share and interact. Here is a compilation of some of the museums in Nairobi where you can have a pleasant experience.
The Nairobi National Museum
It’s by far the largest of all museums in Nairobi. Located at Museum Hill, the museum is a great place to learn about culture, Kenya’s history and the men and women who made Kenya great. In addition, one can view a variety of displays on cultural and natural history exhibits, which comprise of fossils from Lake Turkana, more than 900 stuffed birds and mammals and even ethnic displays from various Kenyan tribes, as well as local art.
The Geology Gallery enables you to explore an impressive rock and mineral collection where one can study about tectonic plates as well as the life cycle of a volcano. The Hominid Vault comprises of an entire collection of prehistoric bones and fossils, and one can learn about early man and evolution.
If you are a fan of creepy crawlies, your ticket also gives you access to the snake park where you will have the chance of viewing a variety of species of snakes and other reptiles.
Great events also take place at the museum so if you are not a history fan, you can enjoy such or even the meals at their restaurant or buy an artefact at their shop or even relax in their serene botanical garden. See, lots of stuff to do and affordable too at Sh 200. It is open every day from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.
The railway museum
Opened in 1971, the museum is a journey representing the historical stages of the rail development in Kenya. It has a main gallery, an outdoor collection of locomotives, coaches and wagons, the auditorium as well as a resource centre. It is located approximately 100 meters away from the railway station and charges are Sh200 per person.
Karen Blixen Museum
Located in the leafy suburb of Karen, The Karen Blixen Museum is a farmhouse that was placed on the international map by the Oscar-winning film premised on Karen Blixen’s life story.
There are guided tours of the house and you get to see the props used in the1985 film as well as the items Karen used when she was alive and living in the country. You also get to have a glimpse of the original equipment employed on the coffee farm. Charges are Sh200 per person.
Bomas of Kenya
Located in Karen, the Bomas of Kenya is a living museum created to celebrate the diversity in the colourful tribes of Kenya. One can learn about music, lifestyle, art, as well as the culture of each tribe.
One has the chance to visit a recreated traditional village with homesteads or bomas, with each one of them reflecting how the tribe lived. The climax of the visit is the acrobatic performances as well as the traditional dances in one of the halls. Charges are Sh200 per person and it is open every day.
5. Kenya National Archives
Located along Moi Avenue, the Archives is a place which spotlights Kenyan tribes as well as the political history, art and politics of the country. The Archives is housed in the old Bank of India building and one of its roles is to acquire and preserve public and private records, which form part of the national documentary heritage. It is said that there are over 600 million pages of documents in the eight storage areas.
The main floor gallery exhibits historical documents as well as photograph collections of famous people in Kenya. The second floor comprises of more art, a display of postage stamps, as well as the National Archives’ reading room where personal and professional projects are kept.
Tips on maximizing museum visits
1. Always know the free days or discount days when you can walk in and spend less. For instance, on the international day of museums, the Nairobi National museum was free.
2. Plan on the areas that you would like to visit. Museums can be intimidating and tiring, especially with many floors and places to visit. Planning makes all things easy.
3. Always ensure that you have a guide. Though you might have to tip them in the end, having one makes the experience pleasant and one learns a lot as opposed to going alone and going through the motions.