The backyard of the Egyptian Museum was buzzing with hundreds of journalists, TV anchors and photographers. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), inaugurated the third phase of the museum’s new development project following three years of renovation and construction.
The project aims at providing more services and facilities for museum patrons, including adding a new visitor’s route and extending the hours of the museum until 10:00pm.
The museum is now equipped with a brand new visitor’s centre that houses a bookstore, cafeteria and restaurant, and children’s museum. The centre is located on the western side of the museum and will be accessible through the museum’s new tour route.
As part of the new development, said Hawass, an open-air permanent exhibition has been organized on the eastern side of the museum. The collection includes a number of sarcophagi, statuary and architectural elements from ancient Egyptian tombs and temples.
On the completion of the development project, visitors will enter the museum from the main gate located on Tahrir Square and exit from the side gate next to Mariette’s Mausoleum.
Minister of Culture Farouk Hosny said that the phase is part of a plan to transform the museum. The project will be complete after transferring some of the existing museum's collection to the planned Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking the Giza plateau.
The basement of the museum has also gotten a facelift as part of the project. Hawass explains that it has been transformed into a research centre for scientific testing, equipped with a DNA lab, documentation centre and administrative section.
During the opening, an Egyptian visitor told Hawass that the price of meals at the restaurant and products sold at the bookstore were very expensive and inaffordable especially to people of low income. Hawass denied the claim, saying that both facilities can cater to a range of budgets.