Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Original Museum

The Egyptian Museum is a neat-freak's nightmare. It's a museum curator's nightmare too, actually. The building itself was built in 1900 to house the many objects being discovered by the many archaeologigsts and Egyptologists excavating the various sites in the country and it was the first purpose-built museum in the world. Most other museums were housed in old homes or palaces. There are over 120 thousand objects in the museum, most of them badly displayed and labeled, but all of them fascinating. When we have visitors to Cairo, we usually recommend no more than an hour or two per day in museum because you begin to go into information overload, and statues, mummy cases, and pieces of jewelry begin dancing before your eyes. Every so often there is a small piece in a newspaper about how someone has just "found" another important piece of art work in the basement storage areas.

There are now plans for a new Egyptian museum to be built near the Giza plateau. This new museum would allow the pieces from the old museum to be displayed better. I personally hope that the old museum finds a new life as perhaps a museum of Egyptology or something like that. It deserves a future as it is in itself an important antiquity. It is also a lovely old building in its own right.

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