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Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center

Threads of Tradition: The Legacy of the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center

architecture arts & culture heritage
Threads of Tradition: The Legacy of the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center
  • Sakara Road, Harrania, Al Labeini axis, Al Haraneyah, Giza Governorate
  • 10:00 - 16:00
written by
Malak Gharib

Nestled near the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center is a captivating location that combines artisanal education and breathtaking architecture. Established in the early 1950s, this unique centre is crafted from mud brick, entrenched in local tradition and oozes charm. Originally founded as a weaving school, it has since expanded to host workshops, showrooms dedicated to tapestry art, a pottery and sculpture museum, as well as residential houses and farm buildings.

Image via AKDN

Ramses Wissa Wassef was an Egyptian Coptic architect and professor of art and architecture at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo. With Wassef’s passing in 1974, he left behind the Wissa Wassef Art Center, which he both founded and designed. The architectural wonder looked to revive traditional Egyptian architecture and crafts in an age where all architects strived for modernity. The defining features of this location are the mud brick walls and the graceful domes that adorn the structure, infusing the place with a distinctive charm and character.

Image via TripAdvisor 

With a visionary purpose, the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center aimed to teach art, especially tapestry-making, to young Egyptian villagers. Wassef looked to prove his belief in children’s natural creativity and wanted to show that anyone could be an artist with the proper support. The centre received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for its humane vision in 1983. 

For over 60 years, artists at the centre have been creating tapestries without using pre-designed patterns. This approach preserves the vision of the late architect to foster innate creativity. The centre’s students still shine with renowned artists like Ali Selim and Karima Ali, who started as students at the centre in the 1960s and 1970s and continue to produce impressive tapestries, highlighting the heritage value of the renowned location and the talents it has brought to the Egyptian art scene.

Image via TripAdvisor 

Currently, Wissa Wassef Art Center is open to the public. Visitors can explore an art museum displaying early tapestry works and buy contemporary pieces at the museum shop, or pay a visit and enjoy a guided tour or even attend a workshop, all with prior notice to the location. Additionally, make sure to check out a collection of Ramses Wissa Wassef architectural drawings in a digital collection published by AUC here!