The world is waiting with bated breath for the grand opening of Egypt’s Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), though the exact opening date has not yet been decided, reports Nevine El-Aref.
The GEM, overlooking the Giza Plateau, will be the world’s largest museum for a single civilisation, namely the ancient Egyptian civilisation, when it opens. The icon of its 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.
In order to make the GEM fully sustainable, its administration is working hard to transform it into Egypt’s first fully eco-friendly museum by reviewing all its services to make sure the institution meets the required standards for sustainability in all its environmental, economic, and cultural dimensions.
The review comes within the framework of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities strategy for sustainable development as part of Egypt’s Vision 2030 to preserve the ecological balance and the sustainability of tourism, as well as to encourage the sector to develop in unison with the transition to a green economy and environmentally friendly practices.
Atef Moftah, the supervisor-general of the GEM project, explained that the museum is in the process of obtaining Egyptian Green Pyramid accreditation, which requires special visitor services, dedicated transportation, ease of access, the creation of bike paths and parking places, the use of electric cars, the efficiency of water and energy consumption, especially in the museum’s green landscape, and the use of renewable energy resources.
The accreditation is being conducted in collaboration with the National Centre for Housing and Building Research.
“Approving the GEM as a green museum includes the management systems and the quality of its internal environment. It means improving its ventilation systems and the use of natural ventilation and air circulation that must comply with minimum required ventilation rates,” Moftah said.
“After it gains Green Pyramid certification, the GEM will be the first green museum in Egypt.”
The Hassan Allam Consortium, responsible for providing and operating the GEM’s facilities, is working hard to guarantee the operation of services at the museum’s official opening.
Representatives of the consortium presented their facilities management strategy during a meeting on Monday, with the latest designs for the services area and the marketing and promotional plan to ensure the best level of services in the GEM.
Visitors to the GEM will experience displays that combine the past, present, and future. They will be able to admire the ancient Egyptian civilisation, while at the same time enjoying recreational activities in line with the mission of the museum to play a fully educational role.
The GEM is scheduled to include an entertainment area for children, making it fully available to different age groups. All the selected brands of restaurants and shops in the museum’s services area will be major Egyptian brands.
The GEM’s marketing was also discussed at Monday’s meeting, including its website, social-media networking, and mobile application, in addition to its cultural and educational activities and other means of marketing to achieve the highest promotional returns.
This week the GEM received a collection of gigantic artefacts from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that included a pair of colossi of the ancient Egyptian deities Amun-Re and Mut, a red granite column of king Ramses II, a limestone statue of the goddess Isis holding her son Horus, and other gigantic artefacts.
Al-Tayeb Abbas, assistant to the tourism and antiquities minister for archaeological affairs at the GEM, said that every object had been examined and a report on its current condition drafted.
Eissa Zidan, director for the restoration and transportation of objects at the GEM, explained that the transport of the objects was critical because of the enormous size of the colossi.
The pair of statues of Amun and Mut are four metres tall, 186 cm wide, and 169 cm deep, he said, making it necessary to plan a special transportation route and remove any obstacles that could get in the way.
The colossi were reassembled on a metal structure in the late 1990s by a German archaeological mission headed by Hourig Sourouzian. All the pieces were installed in their original position, with places for missing segments kept empty so that they could be added later in the event that they are found.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 March, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.