New Cairo Museum to Showcase Ancient Civilization: Construction Work Has Begun on an Ambitious New Museum on the Plain of Giza. with Completion Scheduled by 2008, the New Facility Is Expected to Attract in Excess of Three Million Visitors a Year. (Antiquities)
Stalker, Ian, The Middle East
The technology at Egypt's upcoming Grand Egyptian Museum is expected to be cutting edge but many of the furnishings found in the sprawling facility will be very old indeed. And some carefully crafted decorations will have a distinctly golden hue.
The Egyptian government began the groundwork for the massive museum in February. Occupying a 117-acre site, just three kilometres from the Pyramids and the Sphinx on the plain of Giza, the museum will feature the largest display of Egyptian antiquities anywhere in the world.
It will cost $350 million and feature some 150,000 artefacts in what Egyptians say will be the ultimate showcase for those interested in the pharaohs and those they ruled.
Among displays will be items recovered from the interior tomb of King Tutankhamun, the "boy king" who ruled Egypt for nine years more than 3,300 years ago. Some 3,500 of the monarch's possessions--including furniture, statuettes and his gold funerary mask, arguably the world's most famous archaeological artefact--are now housed in central Cairo's Egyptian Museum, currently the world's premier Egyptology showcase.
The Grand Egyptian Museum is slated to open in four to five years, and Egyptian tourism authorities hope it will initially attract three million people a year, welcome visitors in a country where tourism is vital to the economy.
The museum has the blessing of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Education Organisation (UNESCO).
"The project aims at establishing a state-of-the-art complex of museums and facilities to provide visitors with an ultimate cultural and educational experience covering all periods of pharaonic civilisation. The museum is also intended to be the first global virtual museum, utilising the latest computer and communication technology, thus providing the potential for linkage with other museums worldwide," Egypt's Ministry of Tourism says.
Computer technology will enable visitors to relive Howard Carter's emotions at the time he discovered Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
"It will be one of the great museums in the world," predicts Magdi Selim of the Egyptian Tourist Authority.
The facility will also be used to produce documentaries and host workshops where young Egyptians will be trained to produce handicrafts.
Cairo's Egyptian Museum will remain open after the Grand Egyptian Museum begins welcoming visitors. There are far more items from the pharaonic era than any one large museum can accommodate and the opening of the new facility will mean some of the priceless artefacts--confined for years to dusty museum basements--will, at last, be seen.
Tourism officials say those visiting the Grand Egyptian Museum will not simply be viewing sarcophagi, gold jewellery, statues and other treasures crafted during the reigns of such rulers as Ramses II. …