Karen Blixen Museum
At the foot of the Ngong Hills, 10 kilometers from Nairobi, lies a 19th century bungalow named after renowned Danish author Karen Blixen. The building houses the Karen Blixen Museum.
With its serene environment, lush green lawns and cool breeze, one cannot help but fall for its charm and promise of tranquility.
Today it has most of Karen’s furniture and a museum shop that sells handicraft and postcards. Its gardens are also rented for weddings and corporate events. The building’s unique architecture and its association with European settlers and the iconic Karen Blixen give the museum unique historical significance.
The Karen Blixen house meets three of the customary criteria for historical significance. First, it is associated with the broad historical pattern of European settlement and cultivation of East Africa. Second, it is associated with the life of a person significant to our past as the home of Baroness Karen Blixen from 1917 -1931. As such, it served as the setting and basis of her well known book Out of Africa, written under the pseudonym Isak Dinesenand as a gathering place for other well known personalities of the period. Third, the building embodies the distinctive characteristics of its type, period and method of construction. The house’s architecture is typical of late 19th century bungalow architecture, including the spacious rooms, horizontal layout verandas, tile roof and stone construction typical of scores of residences built throughout European suburbs of Nairobi in early decades.
The chronology of the house begins with its construction in 1912 by the wealthy Swedish civil engineer, later honorary Swedish consul to Kenya, Ake Sjogren. It served as the main residence on his Swedo -African coffee company, an estate of over 6,000 acres. The house was soon visited while on safari by the Danish count Mojen Frijs, who upon his return to Denmark persuaded his cousin to seek their fortune in Kenya. Baron Blixen acquired part of the estate in 1913 and the remainder in 1916. Karen Blixen called the house “Bogani” or “Mbogani” meaning a house in the woods, and occupied it until 1931