What You Need To Know About The Grand Egyptian Museum

By Mervat Mohsen.

The end of 2022 would be utterly sensational from an archaeological point of view. Journalists from all over the world are preening ears to observe the mysteries unraveling at the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

The opening of the GEM would be very much in line with the red carpet ceremonies. Eager tourists would be greeted in the foyer of the museum by the colossal statue of King Rameses II, and a sky-lit atrium studded with kings and deities of lore. The 83-ton statue of King Ramsis II, was moved in 2018 from bustling Cairo to better breathe at the reception area of the GEM. Enviously, Egypt’s greatest pharaoh, Ramsis II, was immortalized both for his achievements and by Hollywood. The latter’s heartthrob Yul Brynner, together with Hollywood’s founding director Cecil de Mille brought Ramsis back to life in The Ten Commandments (1956), the most successful de Mille movie filmed on location in Egypt’s Sinai.

Ramsis II, along with tens of kings, would greet incoming tourists at the inauguration, scheduled at the end of the year. Those royalties included the Pyramids’ builders who would geographically reunite with their constructs, two kilometers away, reveling together in keeping their Old Kingdom alive and well.

As it happened, the end of 2022 marked both the 200-year anniversary of deciphering the Rosetta Stone and the anniversary of the discovery of King Tut Ankh Amun’s collective heritage by archaeologist Howard Carter. The Rosetta Stone was inscribed in 196 BC, discovered in 1799, and deciphered in 1822. The 762-kilogram stone, housed in the British Museum, had made sense of the civilization of the Pharaohs, transforming that world into a major site for tourists. Meanwhile, the Grand Egyptian Museum built a special section for the entire treasures of King Tut, almost five thousand pieces, some of which would be on display for the first time. The new museum hosts artifacts from pre-dynastic times up to the Greco-Roman period, which were kept till recently at the original Egyptian Museum. The new premise offered a more elaborate manner of safekeeping and display in-line with contemporary challenges.

A serendipitous moment indeed when the museum, the Rosetta Stone, and Tut’s belongings discovery united anniversaries, marking an unparalleled cosmic alliance. For an extra cherry on top, a media source revealed that the statue of Ramses II at the museum would observe the sun on its face twice annually on the two days marking the king’s birth and coronation respectively. The event would coincide in time and date with the original happenings at Ramsis II‘s temple at Abu Simbel.

A day spent at the Grand Museum would not be enough. Until it opened, tourists contended with an Egyptian tour of the Giza Pyramids followed by a 45-minute drive to the Egyptian museum in Downtown Cairo and a tour, wrapping up their stay in that one or two-day stop by driving to Cairo Airport and washing off a fulfilling day at one of Egypt’s endlessly long beaches. Today, the entire touristic world must rethink tourism to Egypt. Thanks to the inauguration of a new Sphinx Airport on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road, twenty minutes away from the Pyramids, the Grand Egyptian Museum and the Giza Pyramids’ site were two kilometers away. The entire world of tourism would have a field day at the bountiful time saved to best accommodate the incoming flocks of tourists. 

The Grand Egyptian Museum hosts 100,000 artifacts. Among Tut’s almost 5000 pieces on display, some objects were never exhibited before. The post-modern design of the museum humbled all other establishments in terms of location, design, and content. The Grand Egyptian Museum offers more than observation of artifacts.  It is coaching conservators and teaching sustainable management of the Grand Egyptian Museum to safe keep the legacy of the Pharaohs for generations. It would be no surprise if colleges in the future offered courses on-site for future Egyptologists.

Rosetta Stone

Endless reasons dictated the move from the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo to a more elaborate home at the Giza Plateau; the latter already destined for more greatness according to a 2030 visionary plan in the works. Thoughtfully, the original Museum would still operate with artifacts for scholars and students after refurbishment; after all, it was in resilient operation since 1902.  

That tactical move to build the Grand Egyptian Museum at that cutting-for-sizeable traffic is an act of pure genius. The Egyptian capital grew since the older museum was opened 120 years ago. Egypt’s population grew since then to the extent that it has climbed by 2 percent since 2019. At the time the Egyptian Museum was built, the whole of Egypt counted ten million people; whereas Cairo stood to date at almost twice the size of New York. The original museum was designed by the French architect Dourgnon in 1895 when Cairo’s inhabitants counted in the hundreds of thousands. Moreover, new discoveries conducted by professional archaeologists and digital know-how were heavily stretching thin that museum’s capabilities. 

The Grand Egyptian Museum brings together Egypt’s ancient greats: kings and deities to welcome five million visitors annually as expected. The state-of-the-art museum was carefully planned along many lines.  Designed as a green museum, respecting the environment, the GEM has been accredited for strict environmental adherence. It was divided thematically at times according to religion, royal image and to the order of kings and deities, at other sections, it caters to children. The museum also retraced the journey of the discoverer of Tut Ankh Amun and will showcase it down to Howard Carter’s immortalized hiss at the ‘wonderful things’ he saw. And so, we would too, in awe, soon enough.

If all of these incredible facts are not impressive and reason enough to get you to the Grand Egyptian Museum, well it has been announced that it will include a display of the world’s first hung obelisk, aged 3500 years.

Egypt’s full of incredible landmarks and this museum will soon be making the list of top sights to see.

WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss…After Its Grand Inauguration, Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The National Museum Of Egyptian Civilization