The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Arts & Culture

Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum: Father of Modern Sculpture

Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum: Father of Modern Sculpture
    written by
    Hannah Cooper

    While the Mahmoud Mukhtar
    Museum might sound like yet another
    museum found on the posh island
    of Zamalek, the history
    behind its existence is interesting.

    The museum itself
    was designed and built by renowned Egyptian architect Ramses Wissa Wassef with the
    sole purpose to house the works of Mahmoud Mukhtar, the father of Egyptian
    modern sculpture. Born in the Nile Delta region, Mukhtar moved to Cairo in the
    early 1900s, to begin his work as an artist, soon leaving to persue his studies in France.

    As a student at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Mukhtar began creating some
    of the most prominent sculptures that grace Cairo today, including his two
    monumental sculptures of Saad Zaghloul as well as the Mother of Egypt
    statue situated at the front gates of the lovely Giza Zoo. Upon moving back to Cairo, Mukhtar then went on to found the Egyptian School
    of Fine Arts.

    From Mukhtar’s impact
    on Egyptian contemporary art to the fact that the museum is solely dedicated to
    his worth; art lovers and history fans will appreciate this small museum.

    Situated on Tahrir Street off Galaa Bridge
    in Dokki, the museum’s grounds are simply decorated and entrance costs only 2LE
    for Egyptians and foreigners alike. The museum itself is really small, intimate
    and aesthetically pleasing with its cleanliness, dim lighting and clean
    arrangements of some of Mukhtar’s famous pieces.

    The museum is divided
    into various halls, displaying pieces from plaster reliefs to marble busts and
    bronze statues. Mukhtar’s Jar Bearer piece is quite remarkable at first sight,
    with miniature versions also located elsewhere in the museum. The smaller
    pieces come perched atop rotating bases, allowing you to fully view the pieces
    and contemplate their beauty from all sides.

    Three wall-length
    plaster reliefs are broken down, each into three parts that Mukhtar completed
    at different periods of his life. Visually impressive, the reliefs depict Egypt ’s early
    20th century with many of theimages containing scenery of agricultural life.  

    Seeing as how national
    icon and revered political leader Saad Zaghloul was a focal point for many of
    Mukhtar’s pieces, Mukhtar’s love for Zaghloul is made clear with various busts
    and marble pieces denoting the man’s greatness. While the main Saad Zaghloul
    statue is in Alexandria,
    the smaller pieces within the museum are composed of marble and bronze.

    In the Hall of Serendipity,
    an interesting collection caught our eye, containing eleven miniatures that
    represent each province within Egypt.
    The miniatures aren’t necessarily detailed, but are obviously created with
    precision and an eye for line.

    Not only are the
    halls of the museum solely dedicated to the work of Mukhtar, there is also a
    memorabilia room containing letters from the artists, in addition to his famous
    sitting chair and winter coat. To take it a little further, there’s also a
    viewing room that contains… Mukhtar’s tomb? Yes, his tomb. Kind of odd but an
    intimate part of the viewer’s experience, nonetheless.

    The museum is
    definitely worth checking out and an easy one to fully examine as it’s small
    and not overwhelming in the slightest sense; unlike many of the other museums
    around town.

    The museum is open 10AM-1:30PM and 5PM to 9PM from Tuesdays to Sundays.
    Tickets are 2LE; and don’t miss out on a few sculptures on the lawn.