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National Museums of Kenya to restore Murumbi Heritage Collection

The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) has been selected as a 2021 Bank of America Art Conservation Project grant recipient. The grant will fund the restoration of three artworks from the Murumbi African Heritage Collection. 

Dr Purity Kiura, the Director of Antiquities, Sites and Monuments, National Museums of Kenya, confirmed the artworks to be restored with Bank of America funding are a significant part of the Murumbi African Heritage Collection.

The three works include an Ethiopian canvas painting of St. George slaying the dragon, a Sudanese painting on hide substrate by Salih Mashamoun, and a Yoruba beaded textile crocodile. 

Salih Mashamoun
Salih Mashamoun, Visions of Enchanted Cities, ink on goatskin, 1975
Salih Mashamoun
Salih Mashamoun, St George slaying the dragon, pigment on paper, 1975

‘The Murumbi African Heritage Collection is unique in that it includes everything, ranging from African textiles, jewellery and ancient books that have gone out of print to artifacts collected from all over Africa. It is an extensive private collection of the late Joseph Murumbi, a retired politician who committed his life to the preservation of African Art. There is simply no other collection of its kind in Africa. There was also no other collector of Murumbi’s stature in sub-Saharan Africa with such a huge personal collection of African arts. This grant from Bank of America will help preserve the Murumbi artwork and legacy for decades to come.’

Dr Purity Kiura, Director of Antiquities, Sites and Monuments, National Museums of Kenya
Beaded crocodile Yoruba Nigeria
Beaded crocodile Yoruba Nigeria

Made from delicate materials like skin, paper and beads, the artworks require different levels of restoration. The conservation process of each piece will be a joint venture between NMK and conservators from the British Museum (BM). 

The BM Organic Artefact Conservation team will provide conservation treatment, as well as preventive conservation and collection care advice and training to NMK staff caring for this collection. As part of this exchange programme, staff from NMK will have an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge relating to materials, techniques of manufacture, and local traditions of repair using the collections in the Murumbi African Heritage Collection to enhance collections care knowledge and inform conservation practice in NMK. This project is scheduled to start in late November 2021 and is expected to end in March 2022.

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