African Heritage House – Mlolongo, Kenya - Atlas Obscura

African Heritage House

Mlolongo, Kenya

This beautiful, all-in-one museum, private residence, and bed and breakfast houses a rich collection of African art. 

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Overlooking Nairobi National Park, the African Heritage House is an architectural gem dedicated to African art. The house was designed in the early 1990s by Alan Donovan, an American who first arrived in the continent as a relief worker in the 1960s. In 1972, he opened the African Heritage Gallery with Joseph Murumbi, a former Kenyan vice president and avid collector, and Murumbi’s wife, a prequel to the current museum.

The African Heritage House is the fruit of one Donovan’s love of Africa and his desire to preserve and share artifacts he has gathered from all over the continent. Inside the house, whose exterior is inspired by the mosques of Mali, visitors can go room to room, observing furniture, textiles, masks, art, jewelry, artifacts, crafts, books, and photographs. As the African Heritage House is also Donovan’s home, he serves as a gracious guide and host, sharing both his life story and his knowledge of the collection, which includes ceremonial daggers from Benin, a Yoruba wooden headdress, giant calabashes, camel blankets, and much more.

If you wish, the African Heritage House can be your home for a night as well: It is a bed and breakfast, with different rooms following the styles and motifs of different parts of Africa, and the kitchen menu featuring an equal variety of dishes and cuisines.

Know Before You Go

If you'd like to stay overnight, you can book directly through the museum’s website or through various hotel-booking websites. All tours, meals, and overnight stays must be booked in advance.