Friday, May 15, 2015

News: Egyptian, German officials visit Minya's unfinished Aten Museum

Egypt and Germany are expected to sign a deal to complete construction in order to open the Egyptology museum next year, after over a decade's delay. Written by Nevine El-Aref

The Aten Museum
Egypt's minister of antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty visited the construction site of the Aten Museum in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya on Sunday. He was accompanied by Ingo Meyer, mayor of the German city of Hildesheim, Regine Schulz, director of the Hildesheim Museum, and Friederike Seyfried, director of the Berlin Museum.

During the tour, they discussed the completion of the third and final phase of the museum's construction to finally open it next year, after a delay of over a decade. Several financial and construction problems have stalled the museum's completion since Germany suggested its pyramid-shaped design in 1998.

Set by the Nile in Minya, when it is finished, the museum is to exhibit artifacts from the rule of Ancient Egyptian monotheistic king Akhenaten, whose capital was located in Amarna, outside the modern-day city of Minya. During his rule, the king coverted to the worship of the god Aten, hence the name of the museum.

Egypt and Germany are to sign a new agreement to fund the third phase of the museum at a cost of LE100 million, according to Eldamaty. This phase, the minister said, is to include the completion of museum grounds, designed by consultant Mahmoud Mabrouk and to include exhibition spaces and an open air theatre.

The antiquities ministry previously provided LE 102 million for the first two phases of the project, including the construction of the museum's main five-floor building, he said. The building, whose design was modified by late architect Gamal Bakry, is said to feature up to 14 exhibition halls, a conference hall, and a school for museum and restoration studies.

In 2013, Egypt and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation signed a letter of intent to execute the final phase of the museum's construction, to be carried out by the Berlin Museum and Egypt's ministry of antiquities, he said. Hisham Al-Leithy, in charge of scientific documentation at the ministry, told Ahram Online that the museum would display a large collection related to king Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, found in the archeological site of Amarna.

This collection includes statues of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, as well as of his father, king Amenhotep III, and his mother Tyie. The exhibition is also to explore Egypt's relations with its neighbours in the period, through a display of the diplomatic archive from his rule. Also to be exhibited are a set of talatat stones, blocks of a standardised size used in the construction of temples to the god Aten in Karnak and Amarna during Akhenaten's reign.

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