Officially opened to the public in 1980, the Kisumu Museum is located within Kisumu town. The plan to set up a museum in Kisumu was set in motion in 1975, and five years later, on April 7, 1980 Kisumu museum was opened to the public. It is located in Kisumu town along the Kisumu-Kericho highway.
it serves not only an educational and recreational centre for visitors, but also as an educational channel on the maintenance and sustainability of the biodiversity of Lake Victoria due to its proximity to this second largest fresh-water lake in the world.
Its small yet comprehensive exhibit gallery focuses on displays of material culture of the peoples of the Western Rift valley and Nyanza Province. This includes traditional clothing and adornment, basketry, fishing gear, agricultural tools and hunting weaponry. Also on display are several dioramas, including a lion, De Brazza monkey, and the largest Nile Perch ever caught in Kenya.
Unique to the Kisumu Museum are its natural history exhibits in the form of a fresh-water aquarium, and outdoor snake park and tortoise pens. A visit to the museum is not complete without viewing the 300 year old giant tortoise
, imported to Kenya from the Seychelles in 1930. Beyond the exhibit gallery and snake park is a life-size replica of a traditional Luo homestead.
The homestead, which represents the houses of the three wives and the eldest wife’s first son, and includes livestock pens and a granary, give foreign visitors a unique insight into a traditional Luo home.
It contains numerous pavilions with some of the pavilions containing live animals. For example, one pavilion contains numerous aquaria with a wide variety of fish from lake Victoria, along with explanatory posters. Another pavilion contains terrarium containing mambas, spitting cobras, puff adders and other venomous Kenyan snakes. Additionally, out doors, the museum has a few additional exhibits, including a snake pit and a crocodile container.
Other pavilions show weaponry, jewelry, farm tools and other artifacts made by various people from Nyanza province. Additionally, there are exhibits of stuffed animals, birds and fish. One pavilion houses the prehistoric TARA rock art, which was moved for its own protection to the museum after it was defaced by graffiti in its original location.
The museum’s most important and largest exhibition is the UNESCO sponsored Ber-gi-dala. This is the full scale recreation of a luo homestead. Ber-gi-dala consists of the home, granaries and livestock kraals of the original Lou man as well as the homes of his three wives, and his eldest son.
Through signs and taped programs in both Luo and English, the exhibition also explains the origins of the Luo people, their migration to western Kenya, traditional healing plants and the process of establishing a new home.