Cairo Feature


Grand Egyptian Museum

One of the most ambitious architectural designs in the new millennium, the Grand Egyptian Museum will be a fitting home for the mother lode of ancient artifacts excavated in the country in the last 150 years and a world-class showcase for modern Egypt. It will also act as a center of excellence for the study of and research into Egyptology. When open it will be the world's biggest museum dedicated to ancient Egypt, covering 123 acres (50 hectares) on the Giza Plateau less than 3 km (2 mi) from the Pyramids.

Designed by architects Heneghan Peng, the buildings sit low against the Giza Plateau, and several levels flow with the natural contour of the land. The museum's role is to enhance the Pyramid site but sit apart and, thus, not detract from it. This is a 21st-century structure that will afford both the artifacts and the visitors who will flock to see them the optimum temperature and light conditions.

The lowest level will be a lobby. After this, visitors will enter through a piazza and climb via a monumental staircase to the main exhibition galleries, from which there will be clear and dramatic views across the desert to the Pyramids.

The galleries will be divided into themes; transitional sculpture gardens will create a natural flow between the spaces. The vast main facade will be fashioned of translucent stone made up of numerous triangular shapes in a Sierpinski fractal pattern, mimicking the shape of the Pyramids beyond.

Interior floor space will allow for the display of over 100,000 artifacts, from colossal statues to delicate items of jewelry, many of which have never been seen by the public since they've been stored in dusty storage rooms in the basement of the Egyptian Museum in Downtown Cairo. The undoubted highlight will be the collection of Tutankhamun artifacts discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. The gold and turquoise funerary mask is an iconic symbol encapsulating the allure and mystery of Ancient Egypt and Egyptology. These will be moved close to the new museum's opening date.

The foundation stone of the museum was laid in 2002, and at this writing only the research labs of the complex are complete. Current estimates are that the museum will open to the public in 2013.

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