Top 5 Spots For A Memorable Art Experience In Nairobi, Kenya
It is commonly said that the arts are not widely appreciated in Kenya. That statement contains bits of truth. The remaining bits that discredit it are found in several art venues around the country that you may have not heard of. The arts may not be that popular, but all it takes, I believe, is time for them to take centre stage. For all art lovers out there, the following are some of the top memorable art experience in Nairobi, in no particular order.
The Godown Arts Centre
It is arguable the hub of art in Kenya. The Godown Arts Centre is located East of the CBD of Nairobi City in Industrial Area. It is reputable for its variety of artistic displays. The centre aims to be a home for artists from any cultural background to live out their creative potential and make their full contribution to the East Africa Society.
The Centre has a gallery for major exhibitions. One of the Godown’s most indelible exhibitions that is displayed every year is the “Kenya Burning” exhibition. It is a display of graphic photographic images of Kenya’s civil war in 2008 after the contested 2007 election results. The Godown has a main performance space with professional lighting equipment and stage facilities. This area is suitable for concerts, discussion forums, product launches, and video shoots. Artists can benefit from their 5 rooms that can be hired for meetings, workshops, and rehearsals. Available throughout the year are eight well-lit studios for visual artists such as sculptors to work in the sheds. Also the rooms can double as places for artists to hang out and share inspiration. As you visit this memorable centre, don’t forget to grab a cup of Kenyan tea at their restaurant.
Ramoma Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art
Moving North-West of the CBD in Parklands along 2nd Parklands avenue, is the Ramoma Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art. This museum was established in 2001 with support from the Ford Foundation and the Rahimtulla Trust. Their mission is “to provide a place for all where artistic creativity is nurtured, promoted and exposed for education, posterity and the good of Kenya.” It was formerly located in Upperhill but expanded to Parklands for a more spacious accommodation. Ramoma exhibits contemporary African Art. Visitors to the museum can see an exhibition of Children’s work in the Safaricom Children’s gallery. Ramoma also has a photographic gallery. The Museum has a garden of sculptures and an area for open-air performances. Watch out for their workshops for children and adults on visual arts.
In the perimeter of the concrete jungle of the Nairobi Central Business District is the French Cultural Centre, popularly known as the Alliance Française. The centre, which is mainly a private school for French tutoring, doubles up as an arts centre. The Alliance Française has a gallery of visual arts throughout the year. The art is by various artists who get the opportunity to display their work on the walls or on stands. The public is free to walk in and view this art work that is located on ground floor and on first floor near the library. Also in the centre is the Wangari Maathai Auditorium that is reputable for professional theatrical performances and screening of movies. The auditorium has state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems to give all theatrical performances in this location a professional touch. Plays and theatrical events at the Alliance Française generally cost 500sh. Also in the centre is an open-air stage in a beautifully kept garden. The garden stage is a place where music album launches and concerts generally take place. The Alliance Française also has a restaurant and bar whose seating oversees the garden stage. Customers can enjoy a drink as they watch their favourite entertainers.
The Kenya National Archives
In the heart of the CBD of Nairobi City is a huge cream building that any Nairobi citizen would easily identity at the Archives building. This is the history-holder of the Kenyan people. Replete with documents and photo galleries, the National Archives is a walk down Kenya’s memory lane. Their public records are available to the public for references and research purposes or as they state, “for leisure and enjoyment.”
The Nairobi National Museum
The Nairobi National Museum is one of twenty museums around the country that forms the larger National Museums of Kenya. The Nairobi National Museum is located in Museum Hill (named after it), a relatively walking distance from the CBD of Nairobi. The venue is open on all 365/366 days throughout the year from 8:30am to 5:30pm. In the museum is a rich collection of stuffed animals, Kenya’s colonial history, the wildlife found in the country, plus a touch of pre-historic nature. In the threshold of the museum is a colossal statue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur that serves as the most memorable feature for any visitor. Within the compound is a breathtaking nature trail through tall trees and the Nairobi River while overlooking the Nairobi skyline. The museum boasts of a snake park. Here visitors can catch views of different exquisite snake species of Kenya safely locked behind glass cages.
The Museum is an avid promoter of theatrical arts. In their open-air amphitheatre, visitors can catch storytelling and theatrical performances by Nairobi thespians. Also in the Museum is the Louis Leakey Auditorium. The facility is reputable for its state-of-the-art facilities that are especially excellent for theatrical plays. The museum hosts festivals once in a while such as the Storymoja Hay Festival. Just like the Godown, you will enjoy the tea and snacks served in their restaurant.