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The National Geographic Society Museum

The Egyptian Geographic Society Museum: A Different Museum in Cairo

reviewed by
Melissa Howell
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The Egyptian Geographic Society Museum: A Different Museum in Cairo

Egyptian Museum may get all of the glory as the host of the largest collection
of ancient artefacts in Cairo, but several museums throughout the city really
steal the show when it comes to displaying Egypt’s rich heritage. One such
hidden gem is the Egyptian Geographic Society’s Museum in Garden City.

Egyptian Geographic Society was established in 1875 by Khedive Ismail to
promote exploration and understanding of various regions of Egypt and Africa.
The society’s museum houses displays, maps, publications and artefacts, mostly
from the 18th to early 20th century. 

many of the museum’s pieces are self-explanatory, it is likely that someone
from the society’s staff will offer to give you a tour. They have an impressive
amount of knowledge pertaining to the objects in the four halls of the museum;
so be sure to tip your guide for his time.

museum tour begins in the Egyptian Hobbies and Traditions Hall, which houses
everything from smoking paraphernalia to toys. Mixed among the seemingly
endless cases of clothing, jewellery and talismans are larger pieces like an
intricate bridal carriage and a portable barber’s stand. The second hall is a
literal hallway with a rather confused collection of recent publications,
figurines of people wearing traditional attire from various regions of Egypt,
and a display case of tools used during the 18th century.

One of
the most fascinating areas of the museum is the third hall, which is filled
with objects brought back from the society’s expeditions throughout the
continent. Two elephant tusks grace the doors of this hall and at the centre of
the room is a large case holding a crocodile. The walls of the hall are lined
with shields and spears from tribes throughout Africa.

The Suez
Canal Room, appropriately painted blue, was dedicated to the society by the
Suez Canal Company. It features maps and dioramas of points along the Canal.
The room could benefit from more written information, but it is a fun visual
display nonetheless.

upstairs library and auditorium where you purchase entrance tickets are not
technically part of the museum, but are definitely worth a few minutes of your
time.  The massive auditorium’s walls are
lined with thousands of books; some dating back to the 1500s. The library
includes several sets of encyclopaedias, 20th century censuses and statistical
data from Egypt and a number of other countries.  Nature photography of Egypt’s deserts hangs
from an easel and a number of old maps are on display as well.

museum takes about an hour for a thorough visit and costs 20LE, so it’s a great
museum to check out if you want to avoid the large crowds and high prices of
the Egyptian Museum.

360 Tip

Make sure you bring identification – foreign visitors will need to bring their passport.

Best Bit

The museum’s assortment of old maps is reason enough to visit.

Worst Bit

The hours are rather inconvenient; the museum closes at 1PM.

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