Cats, Bellydancing, and Classic Cars: Museums We’d Love to See Open Up in Egypt

With the Grand Egyptian Museum set to open its doors soon and the recently opened Museum of Egyptian Civilization, Egypt seems to be opening new museums everywhere you look. However, we had a brainstorm of some of the museums that we’d love to see open in Egypt, from the Samia Gamal Museum of Bellydancing to an underwater museum exploring the hidden treasures just off the coast of Alexandria.

The Museum of Egyptian Cinema

Imagine this, one of those beautiful retro cinemas in Downtown Cairo refurbished to its former glory hosting the Museum of Egyptian Cinema. However, alongside the museum that details the exciting lives of Egypt’s most famous actors and actresses and the industry as a whole, the cinema still runs as a normal cinema, but only shows classic Egyptian films from the past. For the full retro experience taking us back to Egypt’s golden age of cinema in the 50s and 60s, the museum’s cafe could only serve classic Egyptian beverages like Spiro Spathis pop and treats remembered so fondly by Egypt’s older generations. And while we’re at it, why not Cairo’s very own Walk of Fame just outside?

The Per-Bast Museum of Cats

In the suburbs of the city of Zigazag in Egypt’s Delta can be found the ruins of Per-Bast, an ancient Egyptian city that was famous for the worship of Bastet, Egypt’s cat god. Beneath the ruins, hundreds of mummified cats were found as other relics from this cat-mad city. Egypt’s obsession with cats didn’t end with the ancient Egyptians, however, and cats continued to play a surprisingly important role in Egyptian history and culture and surely deserve a museum of their own. With cat museums around the world, it seems obvious arguably the world’s most historically cat-mad nation has its own too.

The Khayamiya Museum

Via Flickr

The uniquely Egyptian craft of khayamiya is still alive and kicking in Egypt. With punchy color schemes and detailed designs made by skilled craftsmen still being sold at places at the tent maker’s market in historic Cairo, the craft of khayamiya deserves to be celebrated as an important part of Egyptian culture. A museum in the heart of Cairo’s khayamiya district honoring the craft and detailing its history would be a museum that I’d love to go to, and I think I wouldn’t be alone. Egypt has many crafts that deserve their own museums, but the Khayamiya Museum would be a start.

The Maadi Museum of Climate Change and Green Technology

Few know that in 1913 the world’s first solar power plant was built in the Cairo suburb of Maadi and ran for two years providing both power from the sun and a vision of the future. As a museum and research center, it could feature a replica of Frank Shuman’s original solar power plant in its original location as it remains unbuilt. Looking to the future, however, the museum could educate and advocate for how Egypt should progress in its green transition and even host a research center experimenting with new green technologies as Egypt embarks upon a green transition. There are museums dedicated to green energy all over the world, so why shouldn’t the birthplace of solar power have one too?

The Samia Gamal Museum of Bellydancing

There was no greater bellydancer than the legendary Samia Galal, and there could not be a better way to honor her legacy than by having a museum on the history of belly dancing from its origins in folk dance to its prominence in Egyptian cinema and in cabarets. While the art of Bellydance has steadily been pushed into the more seedy parts of the city in recent years, a museum dedicated to Bellydance as art would help reestablish the respect the art form deserves. With belly dancing museums in Belgium and New York, it seems crazy that the Middle East doesn’t have one, giving all the reason more to make one.

The Museum of Stolen Artifacts

With the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum, the iconic bust of Nefertiti in Berlin’s Neues Museum, and many other important Egyptian relics having been taken out of the country, often illegally, a Museum of Stolen Artifacts could advocate for their rightful return to Egypt. With perfect copies of the objects displayed in a museum in Egypt alongside the history of how they found their way outside of Egypt, the museum could be a launchpad to push for the real items to be returned and raise awareness about Egyptian artifacts that are still smuggled out of Egypt and sold in international auction houses to this day.

The Salah Jahin Museum Of Modern Arab Poetry

As one of Egypt’s greatest poets, Salah Jahin mixed humor and deep philosophical insights to create some of the nation’s most memorable verses. Known as the poet of the 1952 revolution, his verses even twenty years after his death became chants in Egypt’s revolution of 2011. With the continuing relevance of Salah Jahin’s poetry to Egyptian society, a museum in Salah Jahin’s honor celebrating the diversity of modern Arab poetry would be an important addition to the nation’s literary scene.

The Pharaonic Kitchen

Half restaurant, half museum, the Pharaonic Kitchen could cook up ancient Egyptian cuisine and give us a taste of ancient Egypt we haven’t tried before. With recent publications like The Pharaoh’s Kitchen piecing together what ancient Egyptian food was like from archaeological findings and ancient manuscripts, this museum–restaurant could rediscover the lost cuisine of ancient Egypt and its unique flavors.

The Egyptian Museum of Astronomy

From prehistoric stone circles found in Egypt’s Western Desert that aligned with the movement of the stars to the ancient Egyptians’ incredible knowledge of our solar system and many of the Islamic Golden Period’s best astronomers being based in Egypt, astronomy is as Egyptian fava beans and falafel. However, while the world has hundreds of astronomy museums, none of them do so from the vantage point of Egypt’s rich history of astronomy. While we’re at it, why not place the museum somewhere in the mountains of Sinai or the Red Sea with a proper telescope so visitors can have a look at the stars themselves?

The Dar al-Kiswah Museum

For two hundred years, the beautifully embroidered covering for the Kabaa, known as the kiswah, was made in a workshop in Islamic Cairo. While the workshop called Dar Al-Kiswah, unfortunately, hasn’t made the kiswah since 1962, this now mostly defunct workshop deserves to be turned into a museum celebrating its contribution to Islamic art and the craftspeople that made these stunning coverings.

The Museum of Egyptian Movie Posters

With numerous books published on the subject and incredibly successful exhibitions being held both in Egypt and abroad, the interest in Egyptian film posters is clear. Highlight cinema through its punchy colors and exciting motifs, Egyptian movie posters are an art form that deserves to be both preserved and celebrated.

The Museum of Cairo

Cairo is one of the world’s most fascinating cities with a mostly untold history of how this great city transformed over the centuries. Like London’s Museum of London or New York’s Museum of the City of New York, Cairo deserves its own museum. From the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis to Fustat and the founding of Cairo under the Fatimids, followed by the city’s later expansion towards the Nile under Isma’il Pasha and later expansion into the desert, the story of Cairo is fascinating. And what better place to host the museum that the Said Halim Pasha Palace in Downtown Cairo, more commonly known as Champollion Palace, which remains as a reminder that the whole surrounding area was once only palaces surrounded by large gardens.

Museum of Alexandria’s Sunken Treasures

Via E&T

Since 1996, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and UNESCO have been talking up a proposed project for an underwater museum exploring the sunken treasures of Alexandria. In Alexandria’s Abu Qir Bay, divers have found numerous ancient Egyptian wonders emerging out of the sea bed. The statues and buildings, however, once belonged to Alexandria in its heyday before the ancient city was all but engulfed by the encroaching ocean. Instead of just putting them in a museum, however, the proposed museum intends to take you underwater to see the treasures up close in the place where they have remained for thousands of years.

The Ibn Al-Haytham Museum

Ibn Al-Haytham was one of the great polymaths of the Islamic golden age, writing extensively on physics, optics, astronomy, and mathematics. As a reminder of the central role Cairo played in the development of philosophy and science, a museum in his honor as he spent the majority of his working life in the city would be a great idea. What would really make the Museum of Ibn Al-Haytham such a great idea, however, is one of his inventions and most famous experiments, the camera obscura. To dazzled onlookers, Ibn Al-Haytham would open a small hole in a darkened room to reveal the inverted image of a great building outside being projected on the wall. This incredible optical illusion that almost feels like magic is an incredible experience to observe. So imagine this, an Ibn Al-Haytham Museum in Islamic Cairo with several large camera obscuras showing the incredible monuments surrounding it and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Open Air Museum of Classic Cars

I’m sure you’ve noticed the amount of incredible classic cars you can come across in Egypt just parked on the street, often sadly slowly deteriorating. But what if all of these cars were made into an open-air museum, placed on different streets throughout a city for people to search for with the aid of a map. With the helping hand of car collectors in Egypt who want to celebrate these retro automobiles that have become iconic in cities like Port Said and Cairo, this open-air and alternative museum would be a hit with petrolheads and lovers of all things vintage worldwide.

Do you think there are any great ideas for museums we missed? If so, tell us in the comments as we’d love to know. While we may not see any of these museums anytime soon, we can always hope. In the meantime, however, we can always look forward to the ever-approaching opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

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