Love art? Visit the Kenya National Archives
Thousands of Nairobians pass by this building everyday without giving it a look. Matatus ply their trade around it and very few crews know what is inside. Unknown to many, the country’s rich history is stored here.
Formerly the Bank of India, the Kenya National Archives, now under the National Museums, contains a vast collection of documents and reference material.
When you enter the building, its ground floor houses a gallery that displays historical photos of Nairobi, photos of the streets, buildings, contemporary art and cultural photos that showcases Kenya.
The Archives has been divided into three sections: record management, documentation services which also double up as the library, and the administration.
The first has a photo exhibition that traces the country’s journey through the colonial era.
The photos highlight Kenya’s journey from the struggle for independence, and various events and personalities who played a role in shaping the nation. It also shows our Independence Day celebrations and how Kenyans celebrated it. Another star attraction is the Murumbi Exhibition Centre, a gallery in the former banking hall dedicated to Kenya’s first vice-president Joseph Murumbi.
Murumbi loved art so much that wherever he travelled, he picked up a collection. He later sold it to the government and they have been preserved at the National Archives.
In the exhibition are artifacts that give you a feeling of various African cultures, showcasing the traditional implements and crafts used in days gone by in different parts of the continent.
There are cooking equipment, traditional weaponry, masks, furniture and traditional African clothing. The collections came from as far as West Africa, Congo, South Africa and other parts of the continent. However, some of these items have since been moved to the Murumbi Memorial Centre at City Park.On the first floor is also a collection of first-day stamp marks describing various events in the last 70-80 years.
The archive is open to the public everyday from 8am to 5pm, and Saturdays between 9am and 2pm. It charges Sh50 for Kenyan citizens and Sh200 for non-residents. They also have an amazing library service that charges Sh200 annual membership fee which gives you unlimited access.