I was waiting for a friend of mine at the famous GPO bus stop, I looked at my watch and realised that I had already been sitting at the same place for more than hour doing nothing constructive. In my own silence I reflected on how many activities I would have done for that one hour. What if I walk around instead? I asked myself, looking around I saw this gorgeous building “The Nairobi gallery”. I walked towards it , I enquired about the entry requirements believe me the price was similar to that of a plate of chips , I smiled and immediately paid to explore the beautiful art the facility embodies .
Built in 1913, the Nairobi Gallery was the old Provincial Commissioners (PC’s) office building, fondly referred to as ‘Hatches, Matches and Dispatches” because of the births, marriages and deaths that were recorded here.
Today the building is a National Monument and serves as a Museum holding art exhibitions. It is located at the intersection of Kenyatta Avenue and Uhuru Highway in Nairobi city.
The building’s existence was an Idea of the late Joseph Murumbi who was Kenya’s second vice-president for once year (1965-1966). Murumbi quit politics after assassination of his best friend Pio Gama Pinto. Having travelled the world he opened Africa’s first Pan African gallery business.
The gallery is sub-divided into six rooms each containing unique collection. If you are unlucky to have a guided tour then worry not because most exhibits are properly described so you won’t miss any significant information.
At the Entrance
I was welcomed with the beautiful Kisii soap stone carving, well-articulated Flamingo birds carvings, Yoruba doors, A cock and a hen mating model and the well modelled Portuguese spice jars❤😊.
Ever wondered how and where distances were measured from one place to another? Even though Point Zero is quickly becoming a forgotten land mark in Nairobi it is so iconic because this is the point where the distances of every part of the country and the continent were measured during the colonial times. For example Nairobi to Mombasa is approximately 480 km, and to Cape Town it’s about 6,000 km. Well at the entrance of the gallery a ceramic pot crafted by Magdalene Odundo a renowned Kenyan ceramist is a plinth position on the Point Zero.
This room hosts a mixture of different artifacts from different parts of Africa, I enjoyed the view of the Tanzanian Ebony, Birds, African Calabashes, African Shields and Spears. Kenyan desert containers, Baskets, Maasai Warrior Regalia, Wakamba Bead work and Quivers. The list is endless.
Room Two (2)
It was a showcase of Murumbi’s original Muthaiga house in which he lived for 17 years (1960-1977). Several items in this room were a reflection of the Murumbi homes in Transmara and Riara road home as well.
Room three (3)
This one had a collection of artifacts from African royalty and Textiles. I saw slides of the lions carved doors with typical designs from Nigeria. It contained the African men and women weaves, the Gold Okene a special cloth which was worn by the models in the early 19th century in Nigeria. I saw the Madagascar textiles which they use to dress on their dead after every seven years as they change the positions in which they were buried in.
Room four (4)
This room contained the jewellery section. It was incredible!, I couldn’t just stop admiring the many beautiful pieces that were artistically arranged. I spent more than 30 minute in this room because I enjoyed looking at necklaces, bungles, earrings, cowrie shells. What impressed me with this room was seeing the chain made of ostrich shell, I admired the Egyptian Faience and the Royal Collar.
Room five (5)
The stamples collection room was so beautiful. Let just shed some light on what a stamp is. I learnt that a postage stamp is an adhesive paper evidence of a fee paid for postal services. The study of postal stamps is called PHILATELY. I was surprised to hear that the first air mail letter in East Africa arrived via Cairo and Khartoum in 1927. The first postage stamp was Penny Black in UK on 1st May 1840. The legendary Mauritius postage stamp impressed me the most. Did you know that the Ethiopian postage stamp is the most beautiful and the Sudan postage stamp is the longest?
Room six (6)
The room was not well themed but it contained many books, or the” Murumbi books collection” some weapons, wooded artifacts like the Lamu royalty chair , mortuary doors and the Lamu spaghetti making machine.
The photography prohibited room, this one contained the various arts of different arts!!!!
I really felt sad because I could not take pictures though I still enjoyed the current exhibits.
I was excited to learn that the facility is opened daily as from 8:30 am to 5:00pmm even during weekends and public holidays.
Love art, culture and history? If you haven’t been here please do.
Beyond the Trails Globo#Travel far and wide# Travelling and Photography for conservation!