Egypt's Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in downtown Cairo's Bab El-Khalq area is set to open its doors to visitors Friday after two years of closure for restoration and repair.
On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany inaugurated the museum, in a ceremony attended by other top officials.
The museum will offer admission to visitors free of charge beginning Friday 20 January, and continuing through Saturday the 28th.
The MIA sustained severe damage in January 2014 when a car bomb exploded outside the adjacent Cairo Security Directorate building. The blast destroyed the façade of the building, several columns, display cases and artefacts, as well as the nearby Egyptian National Library and Archives building.
In 2015, nearly a year after the blast, Cairo received a grant of EGP 50 million from the United Arab Emirates to restore the museum, in collaboration with Egyptian and foreign experts from Italy, Germany and the United States.
The UNESCO donated $100,000 for the restoration of the museum’s laboratories, while the Italian government contributed €800,000 to purchase new display cases and provide training courses to the museum’s curators.
The American Research Centre in Cairo, in collaboration with the Swiss government, contributed EGP 1 million to restore the museum’s façade.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, as well as the Metropolitan Museums in New York, Germany and Austria assisted with trainings for the MIA's curators and restorers.
“The inauguration of the MIA embodies Egypt’s victory against terrorism, its capability and willingness to repair what terrorism has damaged, and to stand against terrorist attempts to destroy its heritage,” El-Enany said at the opening ceremony.
On Thursday, the museum will host a musical ceremony to celebrate the opening, and allow media in to photograph the new and restored exhibits.
wooden Islamic boxes and tables
Elham Salah, head of the Museums Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the façade, building and halls of the MIA have been restored with state-of-the-art security and lighting systems installed.
Some aspects of the layout have changed, he added.
The souvenir hall, previously located in the centre of the museum has been moved to the end of the visitors’ path in the museum garden.
A hall displaying Islamic coins and weapons has been added, along with a hall for Islamic manuscripts. One hall showcases the daily life of Egyptians throughout the Islamic age, including instruments and children’s toys.
MIA Director Ahmed El-Shoki said the artefacts which were "damaged in the explosion, and which have been restored, are integrated into the new displays, but distinguished by a golden label placed beside them.”
The blast damaged 179 pieces, 169 of which were completely restored while 10 pieces, all carved in glass, were found to be beyond repair. Among the most important artefacts lost were a rare decorated Ayyubid jar and an Omayyad plate carved in porcelain.
The MIA is home to an exceptional collection of rare woodwork and plaster artefacts, as well as Islamic era metal, ceramic, glass, textile and crystal pieces from all over the world.
The museum is housed in a two-story building, with the first floor open to visitors displaying 4,400 artefacts in 25 galleries.
metal pots and pans