Everyone has an opinion about the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. During the time I’ve been in Cairo I’ve heard “it’s a jumbled mess,” “it’s a national disgrace,” and “you have to go, but you won’t like it.”
Of course, I had to see for myself. And the truth is, I loved it.
Cameras haven’t been allowed inside the museum for a long time. But the Ministry of Antiquities surprised everyone this fall with the announcement that photographs would be permitted for one month only, ending January 7. Fortunately that window coincided with Nik and Kosta’s visit to Cairo, and we spent a happy afternoon clicking away.
One of the highlights of the museum is the King Tut collection. I had seen traveling Tut exhibits twice before, first at San Francisco’s old de Young museum in 1979 and then again thirty years later in 2009 at the new de Young. The collection in Cairo is much more extensive.
And then there’s this
Just recently there was a big scandal over Tut’s gold mask – apparently some workers broke off the beard when cleaning it, and it was hastily (and badly) re-glued. The story reminds me of this:
It seems the government agrees with my friends that the 1902 museum facility needs replacing, because a huge new Grand Egyptian Museum project has been underway near the pyramids since 1992. This gigantic structure will be able to accommodate 3 million (!) visitors per year, and will incorporate virtual reality, interactive displays, natural light, and all the other hallmarks of modern museology. The opening date is now set at 2018. I’m sure it will be lovely, but I’m glad I got to see the old one.