With all the spotlight on the highly anticipated launch of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), there is an unintentional disregard of the major news going on at the Egyptian Museum at Tahrir. A historical and iconic landmark that was originally built in 1835 near Al-Azbakeyah Garden, until it was moved to its present site in Tahrir Square in 1902. Here, the museum still shines, with a staggering amount of at least 120,000 artefacts. On Monday, it was stated that 3.1 million euros will be allocated towards the development of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir.
In January, we wrote about Khaled El Enany, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, who had announced that a total amount of 3 million euros would be granted to Egypt for the landmark’s restoration. Six months later, here we are, finally, posting about the official launch that was broadcasted in a joint press conference at the Egyptian Museum, in the presence of El Enany; Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr; and the Ambassador of the European Union to Cairo, Ivan Surkos, who signed the project implementation agreement with Nasr.
But why was this project suggested in the first place? With the tomb of King Tutankhamun scheduled to be moved to the GEM by next year and a collection of royal mummies being transferred to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, people feel that the Egyptian Museum’s exhibits are deteriorating. Some sources say that some visitors are somewhat appalled at the apparently casual management and display of artefacts at the Egyptian Museum. When these priceless relics are shipped abroad, the pieces get their own display room, unlike their neglected status in their homeland. Another shocking fact was revealed by Euronews in 2014, when employees damaged King Tutankhamun’s golden burial mask, and only made it worse when they attempted to fix it, by glueing its dislodged beard back on.
According to Egypt Independent, the grant will be implemented in cooperation with European museum experts to improve the experience of Egyptian and foreign visitors and to enhance the museum’s economic impact and place it on the UNESCO World Heritage List. El-Enany stressed on how the museum should receive “all the support and attention it deserves”. He added, “The time has come to shed a new light on the museum’s rich collection, upgrade its physical structure and improve its research and programming activities to reach the highest international standards.”
The project will be implemented over the next three years with the help of five of the most well-known European museums: The Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, the Louvre Museum in France, the British Museum in England, the Egyptian Museum in Germany, the National Archaeological Museum of the Netherlands, as well as the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) and the Central Institute of Antiquities. Each party will provide its expertise, and scientific and international skills to present the best methods of museum science and ensure the implementation of the project with the latest scientific techniques. According to Sada El-Balad English (SEE), the project to-do list includes the rearrangement of the ground floor halls exhibition and the museum entrance and the relocation of the Tanis Royal Tombs.