About Building Shared Futures

About Building Shared Futures

Building Shared Futures is a pilot project and collaboration between the University of Bristol, Bristol Archives, University of Nairobi, Technical University of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and the National Museums of Kenya. This project aims to consider how digital technologies can assist in sharing historical image collections between the UK and Kenya. We believe that these image archives have the potential to increase social justice, enabling citizens to participate more fully in writing Nairobi’s past and in imagining its potential futures.

Images of Nairobi in Bristol Archives

In 2012, the museum and archive collections from the old British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, UK, were transferred to Bristol City Council when the museum closed. The collections included around 10,000 objects, 500,000 photographs, 2,000 films, sound recordings and documents. Most of these items had been brought home to the UK by travellers or workers during colonial times, and donated to the museum later in their lives.

The collections cover the whole former Empire and Commonwealth, and Kenya is one of the countries for which the archives have a large amount of material. The photographs in particular document the building of the railways in East Africa, the role of Kenyan soldiers in the First World War, the lives of local communities in Kenya, and the wave of new buildings in Nairobi in the run-up to independence.

Dedicated archivists have been working on the collections since 2015, and part of our mission is to share the collections with Kenyan citizens who wish to learn more about their country’s history.