Dezeen Magazine

Ngaren: The Museum of Humankind

Studio Libeskind's Ngaren museum to track human evolution in Kenyan landscape

Daniel Libeskind's New York architecture firm has revealed plans to build a museum in Kenya's Rift Valley, comprising tapered and pointed structures that resemble stalagmites.

Studio Libeskind was enlisted to design Ngaren: The Museum of Humankind by Kenyan paleoanthropologist, conservationist and politician Richard Leakey. It will be built on a cliff edge in Rift Valley, where Leakey found the most complete skeleton of early man, known as the Turkana Boy.

The museum is intended to provide an "unprecedented educational and scientific experience", covering two million years of human history.

Museum to "anchor all walks of life to Africa"

It will track evolution, biodiversity, overpopulation, war, disease, the effects of climate change and the pivotal role of Africa.

"The museum will be a place for discovery, wonder, and contemplation," said Libeskind. "Through the architecture and exhibitions, Ngaren will anchor all walks of life to Africa: the epicenter of human existence."

Ngaren: The Museum of Humankind
The museum comprises two pointed structures that resemble hand-carved tools

Libeskind's design comprise two structures modelled on some of the earliest hand tools used by humans to make carvings. In renderings, these appear to be built of stoney blocks sculpted into a tapered and pointed shape that resemble stalagmites.

A third, dome-shaped building will complete the museum.

A sloped walkway featuring large planters and walls decorated with greenery will be carved into the hill, leading to a glazed entrance into the museum. The interiors are yet to be revealed but are expected to be "interactive and cutting-edge".

Museum to break ground in 2022

"I created a series of dramatic spaces within the museum that are architecturally dynamic and provocative, creating a unique context for the museum's exhibitions that does not pacify artifacts, but enhances and enlivens them," said the architect.

Ngaren: The Museum of Humankind is expected to break ground in 2022 and open to the public in 2024.

Libeskind, 73, and Leakey, 74, are currently crowd-sourcing for the project on Rabble. The duo has raised $4.08 million (£3.15 million) of goal figure $7 million (£5.4 million) at the time of publication.

Ngaren: The Museum of Humankind
An entrance walkway will be carved into the site

Leakey initiated Ngaren: The Museum of Humankind to follow years of exploration into the development of humankind – including acting as director of the National Museum of Kenya and head of the Kenyan Wildlife Service.

He hopes the museum can be used to address a number problems facing the human race today, such as climate change, sustainability, environmental awareness, understandings of race and ethnicity, extinction and technology.

Ngaren to be "call to action" 

"Ngaren is not just another museum, but a call to action," he said.

"As we peer back through the fossil record, through layer upon layer of long extinct species, many of which thrived far longer that the human species is ever likely to do, we are reminded of our mortality as a species."

Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind founded Studio Daniel Libeskind in 1989 with his wife Nina.

The firm, which has offices in New York and Zurich, has completed a number other museums, including the Jewish Museum Berlin and accompanying education centre, the MO Museum in Lithuania, and the Museum of Military History in Dresden.

It also recently unveiled plans for an angular archeology museum in northern Chile.