PM visits Museum of Islamic Art

Minister Moustafa Madbouli, accompanied by Culture Minister Khaled el Anani, visited on Sunday 3/2/2019 the Museum of Islamic Art.

The premier toured the various halls of the museum and lauded the real wealth Egypt possesses.

Mamdouh Othman, director of the museum, said the place includes 100,000 priceless and rare archaeological pieces dating back to the Islamic era.

The museum, which is home to one of the world’s most important collections of Muslim art, was closed in January 2014 following a terrorist attack on the nearby Cairo Security Directorate. The attack had badly damaged the museum.

On January 18, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi inaugurated the Museum of Islamic Art after its renovation.

The museum director talked about the history of the museum. He said Khedive Ismail approved a proposal to establish a museum of Islamic art in the courtyard of the Mosque of Baibars, but this was not carried out until 1880, when Khedive Tawfiq ordered the Ministry of Endowments to set it up.

Julius Franz, an Austrian scholar of Hungarian descent, the head of the technical department at the Awqaf, proposed in 1881 that the ruined mosque of the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim, adjacent to the Bab Al Futuh, to be a provisional seat for the museum.

In 1887 Max Hertz, also Austro-Hungarian, replaced Julius Franz, and began making many changes. He suggested the name of the museum back then as Dar Al Athar Al Arabiya (gallery of Arab Antiquities).

By 1895 the museum collection numbered to 1,641, and the new building became too crowded, so he requested the Awqaf build a larger museum.

In 1899 the foundations were laid for the present larger building in the Bab AlKhalq area of Cairo.

The new and current building was designed by Alfonso Manescalo, and was completed in 1902 in neo-Mamluk style, with its upper storey housing the National Library.

The old museum in al Hakim was demolished in the 1970s, during refurbishment of the mosque.

The museum has two entrances: one on the north-eastern side and the other on the south-eastern side. The entrance on Port Said Street features a very luxurious facade, rich with decorations and recesses inspired by Islamic architecture in Egypt from various periods.

The museum is a two-storey building; the lower floor contains the exhibition halls and the upper floor contains the general stores. The basement contains a store connected with the Restoration Section.

Source: State Information Service Egypt