Last week I made a visit to a new museum we are building in Cairo, the National Museum of Civilization (NMEC). It is located in Old Cairo, and will be an important world-class museum when it is finished.
The construction of this museum will be finished by mid-June 2011, and when the structure is complete we will work on the interior, which will take about a year and a half. We are working on a very limited budget now, but we hope that tourism will increase in Egypt soon and we will be able to push the building project forward and get back on schedule to finish this great museum.
The purpose of this museum is to provide a comprehensive picture of the story of Egypt’s history from the prehistoric period up to the 25th of January revolution this year. A civilization museum such as this does not rely upon masterpieces, instead the focus is on the story. The star of this museum will be the royal mummies, which will be shown for the first time within the context of their whole history, including details about their reign as well as information about the CT scans and DNA studies of family relationships.
In association with the NMEC is a center for training programs which will be finished in one month. The center will train curators for the NMEC and other museums, such as the Grand Egyptian Museum, in museology. When I made my visit last week, I began in the entry area by meeting with senior employees of the MSA in order to discuss concerns about this and other projects. We were able to consider many options, and I feel that we are moving forward together with solutions. After the meeting, we all had a walkthrough of the Museum to view the progress. I have to say, this Museum is looking very good and it will be a very modern educational space. Our tour ended in the basement rooms for meetings, where we watched a brief film about the displays for the NMEC, and then I had a meeting with young people who work for the MSA. These young people come from all areas within the Ministry, and this was a chance to listen to them and their concerns. It was a very productive meeting.
Fustat, the area in which the NMEC is located, is a fascinating area of Cairo, and the Museum provides views of Old Cairo and the pyramids of Giza. Next to the Museum is a beautiful lake. Nearby is another area, which will be separate from the Museum, but will be able to help pay for the maintenance. It will include a big shopping area with a movie theater. We will rent the shopping center to famous store, in order to supplement the income of the museum. I decided at this meeting that the NMEC will not be directly under the Ministry, but should be independent and have full authority over maintenance. The Ministry will oversee the antiquities, but the administration and operation will be independent. The structure of the Museum will be finished soon, and most of the objects for the scenario are chosen, but the most important aspect is the program for training curators that we are starting in conjunction with UNESCO.
Posted by: Mohamed Mokhtar