By Maina Kiarie
Kitale Museum is located about 1 kilometre from Kitale town centre in Trans Nzoia district of the Rift Valley province. In December 1974, the museum at the time known as the National Museum of Western Kenya, Kitale was opened to the public. It was the first inland museum to be developed in Kenya and the first regional museum in the Kenya Museum Society.
Initially it was known as the Stoneham museum, after the amateur naturalist, Col. Hugh Stoneham, who founded the first Stoneham museum, a private museum in 1926. He had a collection of insects, other animals and books he collected from 1894-1966. The museum was later bequeathed to the National Museums of Kenya. He willed his collections as well as funds for a new museum building.
The new museum building was erected on five acres of land on the outskirts of Kitale town. The curator at the time of opening was Mrs. Linda Donley as the first curator. In 1983 the Kitale museum started a centre called Olof Palme Memorial Agroforestry to promote agroforestry in West Pokot district.
On display at the museum are ethnographical material collected from surrounding ethnic groups in addition to Stoneham’s collections of books, insects and other animals.