KAREN BLIXEN MUSEUM, NAIROBI
The Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi was set up in 1985 in M’Bogani House, the main building of Karen Blixen’s coffee farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Blixens moved to M’Bogani House in 1917, having spent their first years in Africa at the smaller farm of M’Bagathi.
The Museum is part of the National Museums of Kenya and is situated in the residential neighbourhood of Karen, 15 km outside Nairobi City. Apart from the farmhouse itself, there is a kitchen in a separate building and a coffee-drying plant in the woodland. Karen Blixen’s rooms and kitchen have been renovated. Furniture that belonged to Karen Blixen and her husband is on display, along with photographs and other items. A bronze cast of Harald Isenstein’s bust of Karen Blixen, made in 1935, has been donated by the sculptor’s heirs.
OPENING HOURS 09.30-18.00 daily, all year.
The Museum provides guided tours, but visitors can also look round the rooms by themselves. Special arrangements by appointment. The Museum does not have a café, but there is a good restaurant nearby.
M’Bogani House was built by the Swedish settler Åke Sjögren in 1911, and taken over by Karen Coffee Company in 1916. In 1931 it was sold at auction. The Danish state purchased it in 1963, at which time the house had been empty for a few years. In 1963, following Kenyan independence from British rule, Denmark donated the building and 36 acres of surrounding land to the National Museums of Kenya. Three years later a home economics school was opened on the premises, with the main building used as accommodation for the school principal.
During the 1980s a Danish committee began turning Karen Blixen’s home, now in very poor condition, into a museum. A gift of $5,000 from Universal Films, the company behind Out of Africa, paid for the restoration of the buildings. The committee later raised funds for the purchase of furniture and other articles necessary for the conversion.
Director of National Museums of Kenya: Dr. Idle Omar Farah
Director of Karen Blixen Museum: Damaris Rotich