The Greco-Roman museum in Alexandria, which has been hidden beneath iron scaffolding and green tarpaulin since it was closed in 2005, is to be restored.
Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh El-Damaty announced on Monday that restoration work at the museum would begin in December.
He told Ahram Online that the project had been delayed for three reasons: lack of funding, poor security and bureaucracy, but these had now been solved.
The Italian government has provided money to fund the restoration.
“The funds for the restoration come within the framework of a memorandum of understanding [MOU] signed with Egypt in 2008 to strengthen ties of friendship, cultural and scientific cooperation, and the protection of cultural heritage between Italy and Egypt,” said El-Damaty.
According to the MOU, the funds would be provided by the Italian government, from a debt-swap programme and from the Italian Development Agency. The funds allocated amount to $6 million and the restoration work will be carried out in collaboration with the Universita della Tuscia in Viterbo over 18 months, including the restoration of the building itself, the replacement of the display cases, the installation of new lighting, ventilation and security systems, and the renewal of the overall display.
Ahmed Sharaf, head of the ministry's museum section, said the façade of the museum would remain but changes would be made inside the building.
The museum will include halls for the display of its permanent collection, a section dedicated to archaeological study and research, and a museum for children.
Italian architects will also use state-of-the-art techniques to make the museum more environmentally friendly.
The museum started life with 11 galleries, but was gradually enlarged. The 25th gallery was inaugurated in 1984, and this contains a variety of coins from different countries, chronologically arranged and dating back to 630 BCE and continuing through to Egypt’s Ottoman period in the 19th century. This collection is a fascinating record of civilisation in the process of change as religions merged and society evolved.
The facade of the museum