High profile new museums  such as those in Egypt, Greece and China may grab most of the headlines & add increased weight to restitution requests in future. However, other smaller museums such as the Kenya’s National Museum in Nairobi are also going extensive refits & upgrades – in this case assisted by EU funding. One would hope that the British Museum may look more favourably on restitution requests once the museum reopens with enhanced facilities for looking after its artefacts.
Magical Kenya 
Treasures in transition
Kenya’s National Museum in Nairobi is world famous for its ethno-botanical collections, tribal artifacts and human fossils. The Museum has now temporarily closed for a major upgrade, reopening in July 2007. In the meantime, the next month is your last chance to see Hazina, a unique collection of East African treasures in downtown Nairobi.
Established in 1910, the Nairobi Museum has become a treasure trove of East African history, and by extension, of human history. The Museum houses some of the most significant discoveries in paleontology- including some of the oldest hominid fossils.
These priceless pieces, representing the dawn of human existence in Africa, have always been kept locked away in safes at the Museum, with replicas on display.
That is all set to change with the Museum undergoing a major facelift with assistance from the European Union, with a budget of 8 Million Euro. Several of the fossils will now be displayed to the public for the first time, in a specially designed, secured exhibition.
But the fossils will not be the only treasures on display, as the entire museum gets a whole new look, with state of the art exhibits and facilities structured around the original historic buildings.
The Museum also houses a major ethnographic collection of over 50,000 objects, extensive displays on Kenya’s natural history (with collections including including more than two million insects and 3000 birds) and the largest herbarium collection in tropical Africa.
The new museum will use interactive exhibitions and displays, with a central hall surrounded by a selection of permanent galleries and a rotation of temporary and visiting collections.
The Museum design will be modern and visitor friendly, with gift shops, cafes and visitor centres, while still reflecting the Museums wealth of history. It will become a major attraction for both Kenyans and visitors to the country.
While the Museum may be closed, visitors to Nairobi can now visit a special Museum exhibition called Hazina (treasures) in one of Nairobi’s most historical buildings.
The Hazina Exhibition is being displayed in the old PC’s building in downtown Nairobi, at the end of Kenyatta Avenue. This Exhibition is a collaboration between the British Museum and the National Museums of Kenya, and features rare African artifacts collected by European explorers.
This is the first time East African objects from a European collection have been returned for display back in their country of origin.
The objects and artifacts are on display together for the first time on African soil. The exhibition shows the sophistication and cultural depth of African communities and it also shows the early influence of African culture in Europe.
Most significantly the Hazina Exhibition shows the importance of sharing one’s culture and way of life, not only between the African counties represented in the exhibition, but between Europe and Africa. The British Museum has Hazina as an opportunity to provide training and technical assistance to the Kenya Museums.
This partnership with the British Museum furthers the spirit of global understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity- a rare and precious commodity in todays divisive world.
The exhibition closes on the 30th September.
For more information contact National Museums of Kenya NMK
MagicalKenya.com – the official destination website of Kenya Tourist Board