By Maina Kiarie
Malindi is a town on Malindi Bay at the mouth of the Galana River, lying on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, about 120 kilometres north-east of Mombasa. Malindi town is home to Malindi museum which was opened to the public in May 2004 under the jurisdiction of the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). The museum is located at the seafront near the Malindi jetty and fish market.
The building that houses the museum was handed over to NMK in 1999, having been gazetted as a national monument in 1991. Initially, the house belonged to an Indian trader of the Bohra community, it then served as the first native hospital in Malindi, then fishery department, game department, and finally an office for the Kenya Wildlife Service before it was handed over to NMK. It is not clear when the building was constructed but the suggested date of construction is within the last quarter of the 19th century, a time bracket that saw this type of building style fashionable especially in the old towns of Lamu and Mombasa.
The Museum exhibits tell the history of Malindi, and is an information centre on the town. The museum’s centrepiece is a cast of a coelacanth fish caught off the coast of Malindi in 2001. The earliest coelacanth fossils date back 400 million years ago. The museum houses temporary exhibitions.