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Art & Museums in Kenya

If Art and Museums are your passion, you will not want to miss out on these top spots to discover a range of artwork and history. So let us give you an overview of the best places to learn more about Kenya's history and the best places to find the art in Kenya.
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Art in Kenya

While traveling around Kenya, you might notice that there are many wood carvings and sculptures throughout the country, and that is because Kenya is world-famous for these types of artworks.

If you are planning to attend festivals while on your Kenyan adventure, you will also notice the traditional masks worn during festivities and celebrations, which have been carefully carved and painted traditionally. This in itself is a great way to discover art and culture in Kenya, so be open to taking part in some of these incredible celebrations, where you can dive headfirst into this vibrant and eclectic culture.

Art does not just come in the form of artwork, and you don’t always have to attend art galleries to see the art of a country. None of the most prominent art forms in Kenya is performing arts, and you will find that singing, dancing, and music is a massive part of the culture, so again be on the look =out for any local festivals or performances.

When it comes to art, museums, and culture in Kenya, there are various ways to explore, and we are here to give you an overview of the best places to visit in Kenya with this in mind. On a side note, don’t hesitate to ask your ‘Local Destination Expert‘ for their recommendations for festivals, art galleries, museums, and local hidden gems, which they will be glad to share with you. After all, they are there to give you the most authentic experience possible. 

So, with that being said, let us uncover the best museums and places to discover art in Kenya. 

Art

Nairobi Gallery:

Museum in Kenya
Source: https://www.facebook.com/TheNairobiGallery/

Located in the heart of the bustling capital city of Nairobi, this art gallery is the perfect place to discover art and history, considering this building was established in 1913 at the location of the famous ‘Point Zero’ which was the center point at which all distances were measured to various corners of the country.

Here, you can find part of the Murumbi African Heritage Collection, which was moved here in 2013 and became the museum’s main attraction. You can discover ancient artifacts, sculptures, and paintings from diverse African cultures. A fascinating aspect is that you can follow the collection to find out how they evolved from the influences of other civilizations.

Diani Beach Art Gallery:

Diani Beach Art Gallery
Source: https://www.facebook.com/diani.art.gallery/

This is the place to come to explore some intriguing African art along the Kenyan coast, in an area described as one of the best beach destinations in Africa. Since 2010, this gallery has brought together artists from all over Africa, and this is the first of its kind in the area.

This is an outstanding art and cultural experience where you can spend all day enjoying the artwork created by over 70 artists from 20 nations. You can find sculptures, paintings, mixed media artwork, and photography here, so there is something great to marvel at for everyone.

Ndoro Sculpture Garden Malindi:

Ndoro Sculpture Garden
Source: https://malindians.com/attractions/ndoro-sculpture-garden-malindi/ | Courtesy of MalindiKenya.net

This remarkable collection of stone sculptures is known as one of the best-kept secrets in Malindi and features a beautiful garden home to a beautiful collection of African sculptures collected by Carola Rasmussen over the years.

You can wander around the peaceful haven and admire the many Zimbabwean stone sculptures, known as some of Africa’s most delicate art pieces. If you have the time, make sure to chat with the owner Carola, to learn more about the artwork and the stories behind them, giving you a great impression of this awe-inspiring collection.

Banana Hill Art Gallery:

Kenya VIP Banana Hill Art Gallery
Source: http://kenya.revolucontent.com/en/2019/09/02/banana-hill-art-gallery/ | Banana Hill Art Gallery

Just west of the center of Nairobi, you will come across Banana Hill Gallery, an ideal spot to see a variety of contemporary African art pieces. The artwork here is awe-inspiring, but the philosophy of this studio is one to be greatly admired.

In Kenya, there is limited support for the art industry, and artists generally have to make it on their own if they are lucky, and Banana Hill comes in. 

They established their studio firstly by opening their doors to these budding artists and providing food, accommodation, and tools to help them with their careers. As the membership of artists grew, so too did the studio. Their gallery exhibits paintings, drawings, and sculptures and offers very fair prices for anyone looking to purchase one, so if you are in the area, make this your mission to stop by and say hello.

Museums

Nairobi National Museum:

Museum in Kenya

If there is only time for one museum while in Kenya, you must drop into the Nairobi National Museum, a one-stop shop for Kenyan heritage and culture, featuring a variety of sections such as Kenya’s Culture, Nature, History, and Contemporary Art.

In this museum, some objects not to miss out on include Ahmed the elephant, the most famous in Africa, the 1.6-million-year-old skeleton known as The Turkana Boy, and the Joy Adamson Gallery. You can certainly spend all day here learning all about Kenya and the different aspects of the history and culture, so be sure not to miss this one.

Karen Blixen Museum:

Karen Blixen Museum Tour
Source: https://www.safarisinkenya.co.ke/karen-blixen-museum-tour/

Karen Blixen, a Danish author who wrote the book ‘Out of Africa, owned this farmhouse, which is now a museum honoring her and her legacy. The house was bought in 1917 by her and her husband, who intended to start a coffee plantation, and the place was lived in until 1931, when she finally moved back to Denmark, having separated from her husband in 1921. 

The famous book depicted her life during these times and became one of the most famous books of the 20th Century, which then became a movie in 1985. Visitors can take a guided tour here and see the props used for the film ‘Out of Africa and the grounds used for coffee production.

Hyrax Hill Museum:

Museum in Kenya
Source: https://uzamart.com/listing/hyrax-hill-prehistoric-site-museum/

Telling the stories of settlements dating back to 3,000 years ago, this prehistoric site and the national monument was owned by Mrs. Selfe. She made some incredible discoveries right on her property.

This important archeological site is an important place in Kenya because it depicts several phases of settlements excavated and renovated over the years, thanks to the Kenya Museum Society & The National Museums of Kenya. This is a fantastic and inspiring place to visit, to get a real glimpse into prehistoric Kenya. 

Nyeri Museum:

Nyeri Museum
Source: https://kenyanmuseums.blogspot.com/2014/04/

Built in 1924, this was formerly used as a native law court, and its purpose was to handle customary law cases which the chief of the villages once controlled, but after it started functioning in 1925, the issues became so large, that they had to create another section, and divide them into a building for civil cases and a building dealing with criminal cases. The building is now the national property and has been since 2001.

Cultural Tours

Kenyans
Photo by Henrik Hansen on Unsplash

These are some of our best eco-friendly tour recommendations for tours that focus on cultural exchange.

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