In 2015, Egypt started the construction of the New Administrative Capital (NAC) 45km east of Cairo as part of the government’s plans to reduce the pressure on Egypt’s overpopulated existing capital, expand urban areas, and develop the nation’s infrastructure.
The New Capital, which is being built over 714 square km by tens of thousands of workers, will be home to a government housing district, 29 ministries and other state institutions including the cabinet and parliament buildings, and 20 residential neighbourhoods that can accommodate 6.5 million people.
A city for the arts and culture is being developed housing a new opera house, theatres, exhibition halls, libraries, museums and art galleries for various forms of traditional and modern arts.
The museum in the NAC will tell the story of the development of Egypt’s capitals starting from the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis right through to the establishment of Cairo.
“The NAC Museum is very important because it shows that Cairo is not the eternal capital of Egypt but there were other cities in different areas and governorates that played the role of the country’s capital for more than 500 years,” Mahmoud Mabrouk, the Ministry of Antiquities exhibition advisor, told the Weekly.
He said that the new museum would document the history of Egyptian capitals starting with Memphis and going through Mit Rahina, Thebes, Tel Al-Amarna in Luxor, Alexandria, Fustat and Cairo. The exhibition would also present the reigns of the Mohamed Ali family as rulers of Egypt and the establishment of Khedival Cairo through the stories of the country’s capital cities.
Mabrouk said that the new museum would also display artefacts for each capital, including stamps, trading contracts, coins, reliefs and statues from the time.
“Thebes was the most opulent and civilised capital city in the world at the time when it flourished,” Mabrouk said, adding that it was a city of art, culture and fashion attracting ambassadors from all over the world to present gifts to the Egyptian king.
The new museum is expected to be completed this year, with 90 per cent of the work being completed by October.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 August, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: A museum for Egypt’s capitals