The Kenya Museum Society was established to support and promote the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) with two primary mandates: to raise funds for the work of the museums and to train museum guides. KMS also runs the bookshop at the Nairobi Museum. Through public programmes such as the Know Kenya Course and Arts Festival, proceeds from the bookshop and other projects and events, funds are raised to support the KMS grants programme. Grants awarded to the National Museums in 2002 exceeded KSh 3 million.
History of the Kenya Museum Society (KMS)
Louis Leakey was born in 1903 and grew up in Kabete, Nairobi. Forty-five years later he proclaimed to the world that the Horn of Africa was the cradle of mankind. Teaming up with like-minded enthusiasts Joel Ojai, Dr. Thomas Odhiambo and Professor Joseph Mungai, in 1955 Leakey formed the ‘Kenya Museum Associates’ to finance the group’s activities putting Kenya in the global spotlight of prehistory assets. In 1971 Louis’s son Richard Leakey formed the ‘Kenya Museum Society’, non-profit making organization for the purpose of supporting the programs and activities of the National Museums of Kenya (NMK).
KMS awards grants to individuals and departments within the Museums in three priority areas:
- Exhibits & Research – in recent years, KMS funds refurbished the Meru and Hyrax Hill regional museums, set up the new aquarium exhibit at Nairobi Museum, and renovated the historic Old Law Courts Building at Fort Jesus, Mombasa. We also underwrite the cost of research and field trips, some recent examples being in the areas of palaeontology and ornithology.
- Infrastructure – grants in this area have provided computers, printers and other equipment for many Museum departments.
- Training – KMS has funded local and overseas training courses for NMK staff, and supported the PhD studies of deserving Museum researchers.
KMS is a society run by volunteers, all of whom give their time and energy freely for the benefit of the National Museums of Kenya. Volunteers come in all colours, nationalities, shapes and sizes. What they have in common is a generosity of spirit and time, and an interest in Kenya. Hundreds of volunteers have come and gone since KMS was established over 30 years ago – and all of them have gained new friends, and had a lot of fun learning more about Kenya, its peoples, history and culture.
KMS volunteers give their time and energy freely for the benefit of our National Museums, and gain a sense of pride and achievement in return. And yes, we have fun too! We would welcome you as a volunteer too!
Contact us if you are interested in helping.
KMS trains volunteer guides for both the Nairobi and Karen Blixen museums. Guide training is a follow-on from the annual Know Kenya More (Know Kenya Course). Our guides come from all corners of the globe and can therefore give guided tours in many different languages. There’s generally a guide on duty every morning at the Nairobi Museum, but if you want a particular language, please call the KMS office ahead of the date and check availability. Guided tours are free.
Engraving of early Mombasa, showing Fort Jesus and part of the old town, c.1861. As part of the National Museum’s millennium celebrations, KMS funded an exhibition of old photographs of Kenya’s first urban centres – Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu – which travelled to museums around the country.
We also stock a wide range of books about Kenya and East Africa; it’s wildlife, history, literature and culture. Our prices are quite competitive with the best shops in Nairobi.
- Chairperson – Patricia Jentz
- Vice Chairperson – Susan Linnee
- Honorary Treasurer – Peter Brice
- Honorary Secretary – Dr. Marla Stone
- Office Manager – Lucy Njeri
- Society Secretary – Dorothy Mkala
- KMS Shop Manager – John M’Mbono
- KMS Shop Sales Assistant – Brenda Ramdas
- KMS Shop Sales Assistant – Loise Wambui