The first Egyptian museum was founded by a Frenchman, August Mariette who began his collections and opened the first museum in 1863 in two homes. The existing building was built in 1902 with less than half of the collection shown in the museum, all is crowded, many artifacts are exquisite, but without a guide it would have been a jumble. Thank goodness we had Salah, our guide who had studied Egyptology at University and has been guiding for more than 30 years.
The new museum originally planned for 2010 is now due for opening in 2020 – in between they had a revolution! And a lot less tourism, in fact visitation is still low, but slowly improving after being closed down entirely from 2012 – 2015. The old Egyptian Museum still has the feel of early 20th century museum about it. Curation is minimal – signs are in Arabic except for a few. All the efforts now are directed to the new museum located in Giza, now know as the GEM (Giza Egyptian Museum). The old museum will undergo a full renovation to bring it up to current standards once the GEM is operational.
We were there for a little more than 3 hours and aside from museum fatigue, could easily have spend 3 or 4 times as long. What that means is that I would need 3 or 4 more visits to really appreciate it all.
Meanwhile this morning back at the hotel the pool area was being reconfigured again. This time the electricians above the glass floor had assistants in the water below and they made a much larger dance floor. Fewer tables, larger dance floor and an earlier start means that we will not be kept awake in till almost midnight tonight (I hope).
Old Cairo tomorrow.