Art and its interpretation, like love, best lies in the eyes of the beholder. It elaborates the human’s mind perception of everyday life and everyday events of life.
Art has been part of the Nairobi scene since colonial times, and even now there are many remnants of artifacts that came from the settlers in some of our art museums.
Here are the top galleries in Nairobi that you should visit for contemporary and traditional art when you’re in the city.
1. Banana Hill Art Gallery
Banana Hill, located north of village Market, recently celebrated their 25th anniversary.
Seeing as they’ve been around for quite a while, they are top on the list of the art galleries in Nairobi you should see.
The gallery has the largest collection of contemporary African art. They have over seventy artists ranging from painters to sculptors from all over East Africa.
All the pieces from their artists are featured on their website alongside their profiles. You also have the option of buying their art online.
2. The Art Space Kenya
Art Space Kenya is one of those gems most people do not know about.
This lesser known, yet awesome art is located on Riverside Drive near the Australian High Commission.
Their most recent exhibition, Bar Conversations by Alex Njoroge and Mosoti Kepha was highly reviewed.
Other popular exhibitions at the gallery include Nairobi Re-Viewed by Kenyan photographer Osborne Macharia and Boniface Maina’s Line of Inquiry.
3. Nairobi Gallery
The Nairobi Gallery is an inspiring museum and national monument, which features contemporary art from Kenya and Africa at large.
The gallery is set in a historic building constructed in 1913, where people once came to register births, marriages, and deaths, hence the building’s nickname of ‘Hatches, Matches, and Dispatches’.
Temporary exhibitions include Dreaming in Pictures by painter Jak Katarikawe and the Hazina Traditions, Trade and Transitions in Eastern Africa exhibition in partnership with the British Museum.
Since 2013, the Nairobi Gallery has become the official home to the Murumbi African Heritage Collections – the outstanding private collection amassed by the late vice-president, Joseph Murumbi.
4. The Godown Arts Center
The GoDown Arts Center has been a working space for some of Kenya’s most respected artists, like Peterson Kamwathi.
They hold exhibitions ranging from photographic exhibitions to paintings and sculptures.
Space is well known for the Kenya Burning photographic exhibition that showed the world the extent of violence experienced by the country following the contested 2007 presidential elections.
5. Nairobi Railway Museum Art Gallery and Centre
The studio started out as a communal space for artists to create, experiment and interact with other artists but has turned into one of the top art galleries in Nairobi.
The gallery is home to some paintings from talented artists like prolific painter Remy Musimi.
Musimi and other artists exhibited at the gallery have interesting ideas and often address Kenya’s social issues in their works.
Check out the gallery located along Uhuru road for some unique pieces.
6. Polka Dot Gallery
This addition to the art scene entered the fray in 2016 and has become a great space for contemporary artists, both locally and internationally.
The space strives to be a place where educational and inspiring conversations start because of the pieces on display there.
You can apply to exhibit photography, sculpture, painting, or any form of art.
7. The Shifteye Gallery
The Shifteye Gallery, is a wonderful multi-functional art venue, photographic studio, and events space.
Showcasing a variety of contemporary visual arts and creative forms of expression, Shifteye also serves as an interactive platform to inspire and promote dialogue between artists.
Recent exhibitions at the gallery include Line & Smudge by local artist Ogonga Thon, which depicts Kenyans’ relationship with alcohol, and Out of Five by German painter and printmaker Mathias Muelhe.
Since its inception in 2013, Shifteye has gained popularity over a short period of time.
It offers a refreshing take on Nairobi’s contemporary art scene.