The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) has been selected as a 2021 Bank of America Art Conservation Project grant recipient. The grant will fund the restoration of three artworks from the Murumbi African Heritage Collection.

This grant to NMK is one of 23 major art restoration projects in 13 countries being funded by Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project.

The company this year celebrates a decade of art conservation projects providing grant funding to not-for-profit cultural institutions throughout the world to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of deterioration.

Dr. Purity Kiura, the Director Antiquities, Sites and Monuments, National Museums of Kenya, confirmed the art works to be restored with Bank of America funding are a significant part of the Murumbi African Heritage Collection. The three works include an Ethiopian canvas painting of St. George slaying the dragon, a Sudanese painting on hide substrate by Salih Mashamoun and a Yoruba beaded textile crocodile.

“The Murumbi African Heritage Collection is unique in that it includes everything, ranging from African textiles, jewellery and ancient books that have gone out of print to artifacts collected from all over Africa. It is an extensive private collection of the late Joseph Murumbi, a retired politician who committed his life to the preservation of African Art.

“There is simply no other collection of its kind in Africa. There was also no other collector of Murumbi’s stature in sub-Saharan Africa with such a huge personal collection of African arts. This grant from Bank of America will help preserve the Murumbi artwork and legacy for decades to come,” says Dr. Kiura

“With the 2021 selections, we have now been able to fund the conservation of over 5,000 individual pieces of art through 195 projects in 36 countries since launching the program in 2010,” said Rena DeSisto, global arts and culture executive, Bank of America. “It’s a privilege to support this important work to safeguard our cultural treasures as we believe in the power of the arts to help economies thrive, educate and enrich societies and create greater cultural understanding.”

Made from delicate materials like skin, paper and beads, the artworks require different levels of restoration. The conservation process of each piece will be a joint venture between NMK and conservators from the British Museum (BM).

The BM Organic Artefact Conservation team will provide conservation treatment, as well as preventive conservation and collection care advice and training to NMK staff caring for this collection.

As part of this exchange programme, staff from NMK will have an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge relating to materials, techniques of manufacture, and local traditions of repair using the collections in the Murumbi African Heritage Collection to enhance collections care knowledge and inform conservation practice in NMK.

This project is scheduled to start in late November 2021 and is expected to end in March 2022. The project has been organised into two phases. Phase one will involve carrying out condition assessment of the three proposed objects, accompanied by a detailed condition report as well as training for local staff.  Phase two will involve carrying out the conservation treatment for the three objects which will culminate in exhibition in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The Art Conservation Project is a key element of Bank of America’s programme of arts support worldwide, and part of the company’s environmental, social and governance program. Bank of America believes in the power of the arts to help economies thrive, educate and enrich societies, and create greater cultural understanding.

The programme includes loans of its private art collection to museums at no cost, sponsorships, and grants to arts organizations for arts education, as well as the preservation of cultural treasures.