University of Nairobi to spearhead efforts to establish a Museum of Art in Nairobi

Nairobi City was named the 3rd best city in the world in 2017. However, the +254 has no world-class art museum to speak of.

Nairobi’s breath-taking scenery and culture have lead discussions to set-up a world-class museum deserving of the Green City in the Sun.  University of Nairobi (UoN) is planning to provide leadership to the establishment of the Museum of Art for East Africa in Nairobi under its aegis and on its territory.

The University convened a meeting of stakeholders to spearhead the rebirth of Nairobi City through the establishment of a world-class Museum of Art that would eventually lead to the creation of culture and creative art zone for the city residents and visitors.

“The goal is to build a world-class museum of great artistic and educational value whose mission will be to collect, preserve and display the wealth and genius of East African Art for the citizens of East Africa and the broader public,” said the UoN Chancellor, Dr. Vijoo Rattansi. “I, therefore, invite interested stakeholders to join us and support this noble initiative. It requires a strong coalition of ideas, resources, visionary leadership, and positive energy.”

The establishment of the proposed Museum of East African Art Nairobi was marked with a key note presentation by the Director of the Smithsonian Museum of Art (Washington D.C), Dr. Augustus Casely-Hayford and a high-level panel discussion with panelists drawn from both the public and the private sector.

“I wish to express my gratitude and admiration to the leadership of the University of Nairobi for having the vision of creating a world-class museum of art at its beautiful campus and its resolve to walk the talk for the creation of such a complex high profile institution,” said Dr. Hayford. “In my own understanding of what is important about museums of the future and of all times is that museums of art preserve, protect and then show to humanity its better self, a crystallized, condensed version of what it means to be human in the best sense of the world.”

A small, private art institution, the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), opened early February 2018 in Marrakech, Morocco.

Prof. Julia Ojiambo, the Chairman of the UoN Council, said that the University is ready to develop the initiative into a monumental success. “Time is ripe for a Museum of Art in East Africa especially in conjunction the leading University, because of the symbiotic relationship between Universities and Museums as centers of preservation of knowledge and culture. Having a museum of art in contemporary society promotes understanding among global communities through exchange of intangible assets,” she said.

“Nairobi will become the first East African capital to have a world class museum of art confirming its status as one of the East African leaders in arts, culture, and creative development,” said Prof. Julius Ogeng’o, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic Affairs, UoN. “The museum will take the urban development of the city to a new level, create a multi-purpose high-value public space for its dwellers and will be an engine for development of cultural tourism, enhancing the role of Nairobi as an urban destination.”

The panelists included Hon. Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary, Tourism; Ms. Joy Mboya, Executive Director, GoDowns Art Center; Prof. Bitange Ndemo, Associate Professor, UoN and former Cabinet Secretary, ICT; and Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia, Director General, National Museums of Kenya.

The panel discussion is expected to educate the public and create momentum towards the creation of the museum that will not only become a center for scholarly and curatorial work of excellence but also a trigger for the development of the creative economy in Nairobi and more broadly in East Africa.

This article was first published on the University of Nairobi website.


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