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Another museum set for Malindi

By | May 21st 2009

By Hans

The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is renovating the Malindi District Officer’s building and with plans to turn it into a museum. It will house exhibitions on coastal ethnography, a library and offices. There are also plans to landscape the surrounded neglected space.

This prominent colonial styled building, which was constructed in 1891 by the Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC) stands inside the extensive walled grounds.

Malindi District Officer’s building that will be turned into a museum. Photo: Courtesy

Bell Smith, who was the first officer, with his family was the first occupant of the place. His grave still exists at the 15th Century Portuguese Chapel on the seafront.

The building functioned as an office with the living quarters on the second floor for the British administration; interestingly the parking plot was once a tennis court!

It has since been the centre of government administration in Malindi and was gazetted as a National Monument in 1991, by the Kenya National Museums.

In the past the shoreline nearly reached the courtyard but the receding of the Indian Ocean has created a wide stretch of land now full of Casuarina trees, planted by a past DO. After a long process, the present DC and other government officers were relocated to other buildings in town.

Financial constraints

After 17-years, at last, the National Museum was able to start renovating and replacing the most important part, which was the roof that was in dilapidated state. The pillars are still in good shape and support the building.

At the moment renovations are going on slowly, because of financial restrains. Even so one can clearly see what a magnificent Museum it will be in the future.

The ceiling/wall partition was removed and the once rotten balcony was replaced with cedar wood. The Malindi Museum Society has been given an office downstairs and members are present every Tuesday morning to offer to the public any kind of information.

National Museums of Kenya has done wonders with the small budget they were allocated but it seems that more funding from the Government is required. Still, to show people the big potential of this magnificent structure and future museum, an exhibition is planned for May/June with funding from Unesco showcasing the different Coastal tribes.

The premiere will be about the Mijikenda, Taita and Taveta’s. With a cultural ticket of only Sh100, one will not only give gain entry to the exhibition but also to the Vasco Da Gama Pillar, Portuguese Chapel and Malindi Museum.

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