Lamu Museum

Lamu Museum information

Lamu , Kenya
Address
Street Harambee Ave
Extras Waterfront
Prices
adult/child KSh200/KSh100
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Lonely Planet review

Housed in a very grand Swahili warehouse on the waterfront, the Lamu Museum is an excellent introduction to the culture and history of Lamu Island. It's one of the most interesting small museums in Kenya, with displays on Swahili culture, the famous coastal carved doors, the Maulid Festival, Lamu's nautical history and the tribes who used to occupy this part of the coast in pre-Muslim days, including the Boni, who were legendary elephant-hunters. There's a bookshop that is specialising in Lamu and Swahili culture.

The pride of the collection are the remarkable and ornate siwa (ceremonial horns) of Lamu and Paté, dating back to the 17th century. Lamu's siwa is made of engraved brass, but it pales beside the glorious ivory siwa of Paté, carved from a single massive elephant tusk. Swahili relics from Takwa and other sites in the archipelago are displayed in the gallery downstairs.

The upstairs rooms, recreating the wedding quarters of a traditional Swahili house, are particularly worthwhile - not least for priceless factoids like the custom of showing the nuptial sheet to the women of the bride's family to prove consummation had taken place.