Karen Blixen Museum was once the centre piece of a farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills owned by Danish Author Karen and her Swedish Husband, Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke. Located 10km from the city centre, the Museum belongs to a different time period in the history of Kenya. The farm house gained international fame with the release of the movie ‘Out of Africa’ an Oscar winning film based on Karen’s an autobiography by the same title.
The Museum was built in 1912 by Swedish Engineer Ake Sjogren. Karen and her husband bought the Museum house in 1917 and it become the farm house for their 4500 acre farm, of which 600 acres was used for coffee farming. Their marriage failed after eight years and in 1921 the Baron moved on and left the running of the farm to Karen.
Karen lived at the house until her return to Denmark in 1931. The house farm was bought by Remy Marin, who broke the land into 20 acre parcels for development. Subsequent development created the present suburb of Karen. Records indicate that a Lt. Col.G. Lloyd, an officer of the British Army bought the house in 1935 and lived there until his death in 1954, when it passed to his daughters, Mrs. G. Robersts and Lavender Llyod. A transfer of title to Mrs. J.P Robson and Mrs L.B. Hyde is in City Hall records in 1956. The house was sporadically occupied until purchased in 1964 by the Danish government and given to the Kenyan government as an independence gift.
The government set up a college of nutrition and the Museum was initially used as the principal’s house. In 1985 the shooting of a movie based on Karen’s autobiography began and the National Museums of Kenya expressed acquired the house for the purpose of establishing a Museum. The Museum was opened in 1986.
By1985, with renewed interest in Karen Blixen occasioned by the film production of Out of Africa, an agreement was reach with the collage for the house to become part of the National Museums of Kenya. Many pieces of furniture that Karen Blixen sold to Lady McMillan on her departure were acquired back and constitute part of the exhibition in the Museum. The Museum house remains a serene environment that seems to belong to the past, surrounded by a tranquil garden and indigenous forest, with a splendid view of Karen’s beloved Ngong Hills. She honours the hills with the phrase ‘I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills’.