Publisher: Cairo Postcard Trust
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum or Museum of Cairo, in Cairo, Egypt, is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display, the remainder in storerooms. Built in 1901 by the Italian construction company Garozzo-Zaffarani to a design by the French architect Marcel Dourgnon, the edifice is one of the largest museums in the region.
The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities contains many important pieces of ancient Egyptian history. It houses the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities. The Egyptian government established the museum built in 1835 near the Ezbekeyah Garden and later moved to the Cairo Citadel. In 1855, Archduke Maximilian of Austria was given all of the artifacts by the Egyptian government; these are now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
A new museum was established at Boulaq in 1858 in a former warehouse, following the foundation of the new Antiquities Department under the direction of Auguste Mariette. The building lay on the bank of the Nile River, and in 1878 it suffered significant damage in a flood of the Nile River. In 1891, the collections were moved to a former royal palace, in the Giza district of Cairo. They remained there until 1902 when they were moved, for the last time, to the current museum in Tahrir Square, built by the Italian company of Giuseppe Garozzo and Francesco Zaffrani to a design by the French architect Marcel Dourgnon.
The stick used to beat the Egyptian Museum most regularly, though, is visitor experience. In the past, it has been unfavorably compared to a store room, and there is no doubt that it charms and frustrates in equal measure. Visit during the day and dust dances in the shards of light that cascade down from the skylights in the central atrium, casting a heavenly glow upon the wonders below. Display cases are often antiques in themselves, and wandering among them transports visitors back to a time of mustachioed, pith-helmeted adventurers posing for sepia photographs with their finds before packing them up for display. Indeed, peer around certain corners and there are unopened wooden crates that look like they may well have been in situ since the turn of the 20th century, challenging you to imagine what wonders can be found inside and where they came from.
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