Egyptian MuseumImposing in its pink structure, the Egyptian Museum stands majestically in the middle of the Tahrir Square which is the heart of Cairo. The museum is a storehouse for more than 120,000 artefacts that include the famous tomb of Tutankhamen and mummies that have been discovered in the 19th century. The museum consists of two floors. The ground floor displays relics from the old history of Egypt to the Greco-Roman Period, and on another floor, you will find exotic exhibits that include the mummies and the tomb of Tutankhamen. There are other interesting pieces that are kept on this floor and you need to buy a ticket to have a closer view.
Grand Egyptian MuseumThe Grand Egyptian Museum was built on the slopes between the Nile Valley and the Giza plateau. The entrances from the Nile Valley leads to the main galleries situated on the Giza plateau. The garden has a massive structure of Ramses II, greeting all, at the entry point of the museum. A flight of stairs takes you from the Valley to the plateau flanked by 87 statues of gods and ancient Kings. You can enter the main gallery from the left side of the staircase which displays the old Kingdom of the pyramid builders, the Middle Kingdom and finally displays items of Tutankhamun and Ramses I of the New Kingdom along with Greco Roman relics. The Gallery is arranged in chronological order. This helps the visitors in understanding the periods and transition in history. After exploring the museum visitors are brought back to a tall glass window that looks out to a pyramid.
Walking to the right side of the staircase will take you to the Tutankhamun Gallery. A separate section is devoted to children to make them understand more comprehensively the ancient history of Egypt. The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is within easy access from the rest of the city it is connected by Metro bus and taxi and can be conveniently reached even if you're coming from the airport. It takes 20 minutes to reach the GEM from the international airport.
The security in the old Egyptian Museum has now been tightened owing to the various thefts that took place in the past. The locking system and lighting system have all been improved and CCTV cameras have been put at strategic places to make it more secure. The vigilance has generally been stepped up to preserve all the priceless relics that are stored inside The Egyptian museum. Remember to maintain silence and understand and enjoy as much as you can of the old ancient civilization of Egypt.
What to See?
★ The Exhibits of Ancient EgyptThe museum exhibits grand treasures from the old kingdoms of ancient Egypt that date back to 2700 BC. The biggest hurdle is understanding all the relics on display in the museum. As they were excavated, the museum kept stocking them with certain sections falling out of context. There are many artefacts labelled in French, English, Arabic and German which becomes difficult for a common visitor to interpret therefore it is important to have a guide with you. Guides are available right outside the museum and they will help you understand what you are watching and narrate interesting anecdotes.
★ Ground FloorIn the second half of the ground floor, you will find the most interesting relics from the old kingdom of ancient Egypt. This primarily features the ‘builder period’, which holds the distinction of having the greatest pyramids. A huge section in the museum is devoted to these pyramids. The models of pyramids of Giza, the pyramid of the Dahshur, the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, Pyramids of Abu Sir, are on display here. The alabaster statue of King Khafre contributes to the huge collection. There are many small statues of servants doing their daily chores. They show how Egyptian commoners lived during ancient times.
Looking at the displays in the museum you can form an idea on how life was changing for the people in Egypt. The 10 most remarkable limestone statues of the Middle Kingdom in the 12th dynasty of King Senosert I, interestingly show a transition in the way of life. After the fall of the old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom took over. Not much was contributed by this dynasty. With the advent of the 12th dynasty, the life of most Egyptians began to take a turn towards art, industry, artefacts and a general improvement was seen in their way of life.
The living conditions went bad gradually after this period as kings were at war with each other and corruption started seeping into the Kingdom. The Hyksos began to rule Egypt in this era. King Ahmose was able to defeat the Hyksos and founded the Eighteenth dynasty, also called the first dynasty of New Kingdom. This laid the foundation for a new era in ancient Egyptian civilization.
★ The Upper FloorA bank of ancient Egyptian treasures, The Royal Mummy Room, which stores invaluable relics of the greatest Egyptian Pharaohs that include Ramesses II, Seti I and the belongings of Queen Hatshepsut. The mummies and the solid gold and jewellery they wore, food along with the bowls, clothes that were buried with the Kings for their use in the afterlife in accordance with the ancient Egyptians belief are all on display and are of great curiosity to the visitors. Not only were the kings buried with their material belongings, but their servants also accompanied them in their afterlife. As archaeologists discover new items every day, the capacity of the museum grows with its new additions.
The most sought-after exhibit in the museum is the tomb of Tutankhamun with the death mask of the boy king. There were many impressive items that are found inside the tomb along with that of Tanis. These were discovered after the museum came into existence. The museum was full to its capacity so some of the objects had to be removed to the Grand Egyptian Museum. Most of the important pieces remain in the old museum in Tahrir Square. This is the museum that speaks of the ancient Egyptian heritage and holds within its walls priceless antiques that are proofs of the country’s heritage. In 1835 Muhammad Ali the ruler of Egypt had prohibited the export of any Egyptian antique outside the country.
It is quite difficult to look through all the relics inside the old Egyptian museum in a day. The Tutankhamen Gallery would take away most of your time with 1500 items on display and so much to watch. There is a huge collection of gold masks, Sarcophagus, Chariots, Thrones, and many other pieces that would excite the interest of a visitor. It is not possible for anyone to see the museum completely in just one day. In fact, even a week would be insufficient.
When to Visit & Entry FeeTime: 9:00 AM -5:00 PM (Monday -Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) on Thursday and Sunday the museum is open till 9:00 PM
Entry fee: Tickets for foreigners are 160 EGP for the entrance to the museum while students can pay 80 EGP. There is a separate ticket of 180 EGP for the mummy hall, with a discounted rate of 90 EGP for foreign students. The camera will be an additional 50 LE.
How to Reach?· Time: 30 minutes
· Bus No: 27, 356. 949 and 400
· Fare: 2LE per trip.
· Taxi: Available at the airport
· Approximate fare: LE 50. Do negotiate.