Karen Blixen Museum: Making history exciting and relatable

 Classic movie fans who showed up for the outdoor screening of  "Out of Africa" at Karen Blixen Museum. Photo | Pool

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Fans had come out in big numbers with duvets, blankets, and even pillows in readiness for the “Out of Africa” movie projected on big LED screens in one of the museum’s gardens

One thing I love about being an outdoor lover in Nairobi is the fact that I never lack something to do especially over the weekend. This is the time to maximise all activities and events that I am unable to attend during the week. This past weekend my friends and I decided to explore Karen and its environs for a short break from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi City.

We planned to attend an outdoor movie screening at Karen Blixen Museum as we get to learn about the museum’s history, go for a nature walk, and have a picnic while at it. Luckily for us, we arrived a few hours before the movie started screening and headed straight for the Museum tour. 

The renowned Karen Blixen Museum formerly known as Mbogani house in Karen, Nairobi. Photo | Pool

Karen Blixen Museum is one of Nairobi’s oldest houses built in 1912 and named after the Danish Author, poet, farmer, and one of its owners –Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke. She named the house “Mbogani” meaning a house in the woods and lived there for 17 years until her departure back to Denmark in 1931 following the collapse of her coffee business and her tragic love story. The house passed through several other foreign owners until it was later bought by the Danish Government and gifted to Kenyan Government as an independence gift in 1963. It was officially opened to the public in 1986 as one of Kenya’s National Museums.

The museum portrays a glimpse of Karen Blixen’s life through paintings, books, photos, furniture, and even some of her agricultural tools which include coffee driers and tractors. They charge Sh200 per adult and Sh100 per child for the tour and we got to see some of her original furniture and antiques such as the gramophone, her typewriter, and her beloved clocks. At the exit, is a gift shop with souvenirs and Kenyan branded items for sale. The tour also included a short nature trail into the remnants of a small indigenous forest right outside the house. 

By the time we were done with the nature trail, the whole movie setup was done and the crowd was getting bigger. Fans had come out in big numbers with duvets, blankets, and even pillows in readiness for the “Out of Africa” movie which was being shown on big LED screens in one of the gardens at the Museum. The movie is a memoir of Karen Blixen’s 17 years in Kenya and offers insight into the colonial life during the 20th century and the ordeals she went through in terms of her romantic life and her coffee business. Watching the movie, made everything we had seen in the museum fall into place. I would recommend watching the movie before doing the museum tour so that as you walk through the house, you have the background story in mind making it easily relatable. The movie is about two hours and forty-five minutes long and I thank God for the vendors who were present that day for the wide array of foods, snacks, and drinks they had including an unlimited supply of Choco bars! The Mango Masaai burger and sweet potato fries from Mama Rocks did us justice. Imagine yourself in a backyard laying down comfortably and covered in a duvet, watching a classic movie with the backdrop of Ngong Hills. That’s how Magical it was!

After the movie, we talked with one of the event organisers Mr. Reuben King’ori founder of Promote Kenya, who gave us an insight behind the event. “To create awareness about Kenyan culture and promote Kenyan heritage, his company leverages experiential marketing to sell Kenya.” They partnered with the National Museums of Kenya to showcase the iconic 1985 ‘Out of Africa’ movie based on the book with the same title at the very place that is center stage in the book and movie to give the audience a clearer depiction of the museum’s history and Kenya’s past heritage. This was one of the many events they are planning in conjunction with the National Museums of Kenya alongside hologram shows, projection mapping, and Virtual reality shows. There is more to come and I am looking forward to such events because they make history exciting and relatable.


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