The Grand Egyptian Museum
The world is waiting for the Grand Egyptian Museum’s (GEM) grand opening even if the exact opening date has not yet been decided.
The GEM, overlooking the Giza Plateau, will be the world’s largest museum for a single civilisation, namely the ancient Egyptian civilisation, and the icon of its treasured collection will be the treasure of the golden boy king Tutankhamun, which will be displayed in the GEM complete for the first time since the discovery of his tomb in 1922.
During a meeting late last week, Atef Moftah, general supervisor of the GEM project and the surrounding area, reviewed recent work at the museum. He said that the completion rate of the work at the site has reached 99 per cent, the structural work was completed, and the interior finishings were also 99 per cent complete.
Electromechanical systems were 96 per cent complete, and ICT and insurance 90 per cent, he added.
Regarding the development work around the museum, Moftah said that the external green spaces had been completed up to 98 per cent and the surrounding roads were 92 per cent complete. The façade overlooking the Pyramids is nearly finished.
The concrete and metal structure of the King Khufu Boats Museum is complete and finishing work is ongoing. The museum houses the first boat of king Khufu after it was transferred from its old wooden museum on the Giza Plateau, removed for the first time since its construction in 1982 to house the newly discovered boat.
Today, visitors to the plateau can enjoy an unobstructed view of the entire southern angle of the Great Pyramid as a result. The museum had distorted the view of the Great Pyramid for decades, the only surviving example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), explained that the museum was demolished not only because it distorted the panoramic view of the pyramid, but also because it had become redundant after the boat that was exhibited inside it had been moved to a state-of-the-art display inside the GEM last year.
It was also not well equipped to house the boat, whose organic structure soon began to decay after being unearthed.
Khufu’s boat is one of the largest, oldest and most important wooden antiquities in human history, and its new location will display it in a manner commensurate with its historical and archaeological importance.
Moftah said that the installation of the hanging obelisk at the GEM has been completed and parking capacity now reaches 2,000 spaces, exceeding the earlier availability by 1,300.
Services for tourists and Egyptian visitors to the GEM are also being completed.
Al-Tayeb Abbas, assistant to the minister for archaeological affairs at the GEM, explained that 4,700 artefacts from Tutankhamun’s treasure have been transferred to the GEM and are now in their permanent places inside 86 of the 107 showcases that will host the whole collection.
Among the objects are three shrines, alabaster vessels, jewellery, flutes, chariots, and other items. The boy king’s famous funerary mask, still on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, will be transferred to the GEM days before the grand opening.
All the previously scheduled artefacts have been installed in their places on the GEM’s grand staircase and the 22,000 square metre grand hall will soon also start to receive its artefacts.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 February, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.