Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, Cairo

The The Egyptian Museum, Cairo was established by the Egyptian Government in 1835.

The present museum building at Tahrir Square near Downtown Cairo, was built in 1900 in the neo-classical style by the French Architect Marcel Dourgnon.

The museum pieces are scheduled to be shifted to a new venue closer to the Giza Pyramids as soon as the building is complete.

The current museum exhibits over 1,20,000 objects, some of the important groups of these objects are : Artifacts from the tombs of kings and members of the royal families of the Middle Kingdom found at Dahshur in 1894. The contents of the royal tombs of Tuthmosis III, Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III and Horemheb and the tomb of Yuya and Thuya. Artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun, consisting of more than 3,500 Pieces, of which 1,700 objects are displayed in the museum (the rest are in storerooms)

Some of these objects can be viewed online on the museum website.

Entry to the museum is 50LE for tourists.
Students with ISIC cards can avail a 50% discount.
Entry for locals is 1/2 LE.

Entry to the mummy rooms (1st Floor) is an additional 100LE.
You get to see about 30 mummies of Pharaonic Royalty. These are split across 2 rooms at opposite wings. So do remember to visit the mummies in the opposite wing too. There is no prominent marking about the second room.

(If you aren't that serious about mummies but want to see at least one Egyptian mummy on your trip to Egypt, then the museum at Sakkara has one on display & entry to the museum is included in your entry ticket at Sakkara)

The museum is open from 9am to 5:45pm everyday.
Washrooms are reasonably clean, but better to carry your own kleenex.

Cameras aren't supposed to be used inside.
Food can't be consumed inside.
You can carry in water and small chocolates/nutrition bars.
There is a left luggage counter outside the museum where you can leave your cameras
and food stuff. This service is complementary.

There is a Cafeteria on the museum premises which is overpriced.
The ticket that you buy for the day, allows you to go out on a break to eat lunch and return back on the same day.
A better option for food is one of the many Koshary joints downtown, which are just across the road.

Avoid the tourist trap souvenir & book shops in and around the museum. Most of the books they sell are from the AUC Press which you can buy at source across the circle for less than 1/3rd the price.

Souvenirs you can get dirt cheap at the Khan el Khalili depending on your bargaining skills.

There are plenty of licensed guides available inside the museum in case you do not want to carry a guide book along with you. My personal favorite guide to navigate the museum is the Lonely Planet, Egypt. (Please note : Not Lonely Planet, Cairo) The Lonely Planet, Egypt succinctly and quickly captures the highlights of the museum in an orderly manner.

The exhibits are grouped in historical sequence. But to avoid museum fatigue, I would recommend visiting the Tutankhamun galleries on the first floor right in the beginning. The BBC Galleries have a lovely photo collection as a trailer of what to expect.

Then you can go back to the start of the First Floor or to the ground floor to finish up the rest of the museum.

If you are following a book guide, don't be worried if you can't find things exactly in the rooms were they are mentioned to be. Articles are often temporarily loaned out to other museums.

Browsing the museum could take anywhere between 1 hour to several weeks depending on interest levels. Hitting the highlights would take about 2 hours.

After the Pyramids of Giza, this is the second most visited site in Cairo and is definitely worth a visit.

Note : Summers can get very hot within the museum as only some rooms like the Tutankhamun galleries & the mummy rooms are airconditioned.

This article was originally published at

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