Studio Libeskind has revealed its design for a vertical monument to humanity just outside of greater Nairobi in Kenya. Ngaren: The Museum of Humankind, commissioned by paleoanthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey, will present over two million years of human history in a building inspired by the forms of ancient hand axes and other primitive tools.
“Ngaren is not just another museum, but a call to action,” said Leakey in a press release. “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.”
Ngaren’s monolithic massings will sit overlooking Kenya’s portion of the Great Rift Valley. The 3,700-mile-long trench cuts across several countries, and the Kenyan site is where Leakey first discovered the nearly complete skeleton of Turkana Boy in 1984. The fossilized remains, dating back 1.5-to-1.6 million years old, is the most complete early human skeleton ever uncovered.
The design of Ngaren reflects the primordial feel of the content within, with Studio Libeskind likening the museum’s form to a stalactite, a comparison furthered by the team’s use of stone-colored concrete. From the renderings, it appears that the museum will jut out from its clifftop site similar to a natural rock outcropping. A main entry will be dug into the hilltop.
Inside, visitors will be able to engage with multimedia exhibition galleries that will explore millions of years of history, and the continued impact of, war, climate change, disease, evolution, biodiversity, and other factors that have shaped our species.
Ngaren is expected to open in Loodariak, Kenya, in 2024 if the fundraising goes as planned. Currently, the project has $4 million of a total $7 million raised on the online social investing platform Rabble.