For many, agricultural knowledge isn’t a necessary component for life in the contemporary world; but for Egypt and its historical Nile, it couldn’t be more significant.
Despite the presumably boring context associated with its name, the Agricultural Museum offers an intelligent and alternative insight into Egypt’s history. After all, wasn’t it thousands of years ago that Egypt’s Nile Delta provided the world with the most fertile of geographical areas?
Located on Wizaret El Ziraa Street in Dokki next to the Ministry of Agriculture, the beige-stone walled-in complex isn’t difficult to find. It wasn’t until the early 1930s that construction began on the chosen palace grounds of Princess Fatma, daughter of Khedive Ismail. The museum greeted its first guests nearly a decade later in 1938, becoming the first agricultural museum to be built in the world.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9AM to 2PM; the Agricultural Museum is truly one of the many historical gems in Cairo that remain under the radar. The expansive lawns provide a lovely space for a sunny day walk, and seeing as how the complex is free of pesky guards, reaching a state of relaxation isn’t difficult to achieve.
Surrounding the lawn, subsidiary museums are clearly marked from the outside; but at the time of this reviewer’s visit, some were closed for renovation including the Cotton Museum and the Arab Museum. While each building does indeed display Egypt’s history through marks of agricultural growth, social and political connections can also be found, providing an enlightening, circular history lesson. It is an extensive amount of knowledge to be digested all in one sitting; so plan to stay for awhile.
In the Building of Scientific Collections in particular, the design and subsequent displays make for an oddly intriguing, aesthetic experience. Filling each room with a strange yet alluring magic, mock scenery depicting chronological phases of rural delta life include crafty, detailed installations of pottery moulding and basket weaving. Don’t miss the irrigation maps lining the wall and the photographic timeline of the Nile’s development; showing how this ancient symbol of life has developed since its early birth.
Containing a variety of coloured graphs explaining breeding methods and milling development, the Plant Growth Building is right next door. As bread has played a prominent role in the Egyptian diet since the time of the Pharaohs, it makes sense that a room is dedicated to its progress. Rows of various types of bread are encased along one wall, while intestinal diseases and dietary disorders are explained in the very same room; rather unsettling but clever.
Also on the grounds of the museum are a cinema hall, lecture hall and library as well as a laboratory for repairs, preservation, storing, embalming and maintenance.
From the looks of it, the museum seems to be well taken care of; conceptually on target, functioning properly and designed creatively. The unexpected sense of wonderment surrounding this museum is worth a trip in and of itself; so next time you’re up for an adventure, put a little agriculture on your to-do list.