The Museum of Humankind
Ngaren is a historic collaboration between paleoanthropologist Dr. Richard E. Leakey and The Naturalis Biodiversity Center of The Netherlands. Located in the Rift Valley, Kenya, Ngaren celebrates the beginnings of all humanity. Dedicated to educating humankind on our shared past, Ngaren tells the story of our common ancestry, our epic journeys, and our future obligation to protect the planet that is our only home. Ngaren is where the world will come face-to-face with the forces of change that brought about our existence – and imagine the changes needed to sustain it.
Breaking ground in 2022; opening to the public in 2026.
“I want Ngaren to address that what is was not always, and that what is won’t always be. We’ve got to introduce the notion that the Earth is a dynamic place, that there are factors that we can influence, and there are others that we cannot control.”
– Richard Leakey
Project Details & Background
Ngaren invites visitors to join in a journey into the past.
Our understanding of the past is critical to defining our possible future. Through state of the art technology, Ngaren, the Museum of Humankind will foster that understanding, providing an unprecedented educational and scientific experience for visitors. Ngaren will invite visitors to join a journey into the origins of the universe, and the story of our own planet where the relentless forces of climate change are the backdrop to the evolution and extinction of species, large and small. Visitors will learn the story of humankind; a story where human evolution was not inevitable, where Africa plays a pivotal role; a story in which we are all migrants, in which our differences are insignificant and irrelevant. From the earliest tools of our ancestors to the insights of modern science, Ngaren will show visitors how humankind has rewritten the rules of the planet—and how our behavior must change if we are to survive here. Ngaren challenges us to learn from the past to build a better future.
Ngaren draws upon decades of combined international experience. It is spearheaded by Dr. Richard E. Leakey, who has demonstrated an unparalleled life commitment to uncovering the scientific truth about human origins, and to the people of Kenya. Partnering with Leakey is The Naturalis Biodiversity Center of The Netherlands, a renowned research institute for biodiversity and national museum.
The building will be a net-zero facility. The museum will be a must-visit destination; a pilgrimage for all global travelers curious to know who we are, and the forces of change that brought us to this point. Your contributions on GIVVOR will provide Ngaren seed funding for architectural design, interpretive and master planning, exhibition research and design, and the development of exclusive, cutting edge experiential educational content. This support is integral to Ngaren’s mission to shift paradigms by addressing critical issues facing the world today: climate change, sustainability, environmental awareness, understandings of race and ethnicity, extinction, technology, and more. Ngaren will make accessible complex scientific concepts by bringing them to life, incorporating technology, art, and exhibitions that educate and inform. Further, your contributions will help the Terra Conservation Initiative provide sustainable development support to surrounding communities, recognizing the museum’s dependence on the site’s history, present, and future.
With the capacity to host over 1,000,000 visitors a year Ngaren will:
- Have the only all-digital Planetarium in Africa.
- Be the only African museum to display real-size dinosaurs. African Dinosaurs!
- Create, teach, and promote science, sustainability, imagination, and equality.
- Inform, inspire, and empower with the realization that we are all one human family and part of the planet we call home.
Paleoanthropologist, Conservationist, Politician, Founder
Dr. Richard E. Leakey is an award-winning Kenyan paleoanthropologist, conservationist, and politician. The son of renowned scientists Louis and Mary Leakey, he has held a number of official positions in Kenya, mostly in institutions of archaeology and wildlife conservation. Leakey has been Director of the National Museum of Kenya and head of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, and founded the NGO WildlifeDirect, as well as the Turkana Basin Institute – a research institution supporting scientific projects in human prehistory, sustainability, climate change, and modern human culture and diversity in Northern Kenya.
The Naturalis Biodiversity Center of The Netherlands
A research institute for biodiversity with over 120 scientists, working on issues in the field of biodiversity on land and at sea worldwide: mapping species and their cohesion, the changing living environment and the influence of climate change. One of the largest natural history collections in the world, with over 42 million objects, Naturalis operates a national museum, consisting of 10 permanent exhibits. The museum reopened in 2019 after it was rebuilt and furnished from scratch.
Am I donating to Ngaren or to the Terra Conservation Initiative?
Your donation will go to Terra Conservation Initiative to support Ngaren and other TCI conservation organizations.
Is my donation tax-deductible?
Yes, Terra Conservation Initiative (TCI) is a program sponsored by Ngaren, a 501(c)(3) organization.
Is the Ngaren Museum of Humankind related to Turkana Basin Institute in any capacity?
Not at present, but it is Richard Leakey’s intention to link the two upon completion of construction.
When do Leakey and Naturalis anticipate breaking ground on the museum?
When will the museum be completed and open to the public?
How will Ngaren be different from existing natural history museum?
Ngaren will not be a traditional natural history museum. While it will house great halls and exhibits like other museums, the visitor experience will be anything but traditional. Ngaren will use technology and immersive experience to challenge visitors’ misconceptions about climate change; ideas about stability—from changing continents to changing environments; to views about extinction and the progress in evolution. Ngaren will challenge erroneous beliefs about evolution and the rules that govern the evolution of all life on Earth. It will challenge ideas about how we have re-written the rules, endangering our future and that of all life on Earth. Ngaren will challenge you to learn from the past to build a better future.
Ngaren will use the latest state of the art technology—updated on regular basis—to virtually transport visitors through time, allowing them to change the past, present, and future. Thereby, the museum will provide a unique education on climate change, the effects of humankind on our environment, and our potential to foster a better global future. Ngaren will be a welcoming space that will encourage human interaction and connectivity – a place of transformation.
With this site chosen as the location, what kind of additional infrastructures are being built to make it more accessible?
The museum will be located on a 300-acre parcel in Loodariak, which is southeast of Nairobi in Kajiado County. The area, which is in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, is known for its savannah, geology, fauna and rich history as the cradle of human life. The museum site is about 60 kilometers, or a short drive, from Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi. Loodariak is a rural area, with a population of about 10,000, who are mostly members of the Massai tribe. The land was generously donated by the Leakey family to build Ngaren. The government of Kenya has committed $10M in funding toward the infrastructure surrounding Ngaren, including the exits on and off the currently under-construction superhighway that will bypass the museum.
What types of exhibits will the museum include in its programming?
Many of the exhibits are already in the planning stages, and Ngaren will be releasing information at a future time. Climate change over the ages will provide a central focus, offering context around the origins of life, the age of dinosaurs, and humankind’s journey through the past to the present, and into the future.