The Ministry of Antiquities has ambitious plans to renovate and establish a number of museums in different governorates across Egypt in order to promote tourism, among the most important being one that will be completed and opened soon in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Earlier this week, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany embarked on a tour around the new museum to inspect the work being done and check the timeline for its opening as the first antiquities museum and centre of civilisations and culture in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Construction work began on the Sharm El-Sheikh Museum in 2006 but stopped in 2009 due to architectural problems and then a lack of funds in the aftermath of the 25 January Revolution. Work resumed earlier this year with a budget of LE800 million.
Waad Abul-Ela, head of the Projects Department at the ministry, told Al-Ahram Weekly that more than 90 per cent of the museum’s construction work has been completed and its first phase, including two exhibition halls, antiquities store galleries, and the services area, will be opened soon.
He said the museum was originally a one-storey building with several halls, but after its redesign it had been divided into two large galleries on two levels. The first is 1,200 square metres in size and displays a collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts embodying the topic of life and the afterlife in ancient Egypt as well as the relationship of the ancient Egyptians to the animal world.
The second hall will put on show objects from Egypt’s different civilisations as well as topics such as the ancient Silk Roads across Asia.
“The museum will provide a ‘light cultural meal’ in its two halls,” Mahmoud Mabrouk, minister of antiquities’ advisor for exhibition scenarios. told the Weekly. He said that pieces would be carefully selected from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo and other museums and archaeological sites in order to reflect the way the ancient Egyptians lived thousands of years ago.
The museum would display domestic items such as beds and dining tables, forks and knives, and plates and glasses, as well as items once used to decorate ancient Egyptian homes, Mabrouk said. Jewellery and the ornaments used by kings, priests, and peasants will also be displayed. Cosmetics will be shown through a collection of wigs and other items.
Mabrouk said that part of the museum would be dedicated to the ancient Egyptian afterlife through a collection of funerary furniture. A complete example of a tomb would be on show to explain the idea of the afterlife to visitors and what it represented for the ancient Egyptians.
“Wildlife and the ways in which the ancient Egyptians respected animals will also be on show,” Mabrouk told the Weekly, explaining that animal mummies discovered at the end of last year at the Saqqara Necropolis, including of cats, hawks, eagles, crocodiles, rats and cobras, would also be on show.
“Tourists visiting the museum will have a good idea of how the ancient Egyptians lived and how life developed through the ages,” Mabrouk said. He added that the second hall would include items from all the civilisations that Egypt has hosted through its long history and would be called the Hall of Civilisations.
It would include artefacts from the Graeco-Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, in addition to civilisations that did not settle in Egypt but passed through on the ancient Silk Roads, such as the Chinese civilisation, he said.
Mabrouk said that a complete Roman bath discovered in the Tel Al-Her area in Northern Sinai would be on display. When the Romans came to Egypt, they built popular baths, including steam rooms, discussion rooms, and immersive baths, and these had survived into the later Islamic era.
A model of an Ottoman room will also be on show, along with a display of desert life including Bedouin tents from Sinai and Siwa. Among the most important artefacts in the new Museum will be the Hathour Column, now in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, as well as a head of Tuthmoses II and a collection of mummified animals.
The museum will be equipped with a state-of-the-art security system with surveillance cameras monitoring it minute-by-minute over 24 hours, while the area outside the museum will feature bazaars, restaurants, and cafeterias to attract visitors in the evenings.
A centre to produce and display Sinai handicrafts will also be established.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.