Monday, January 30, 2017

Opening Soon, Cairo: Hunting Museum Reopens in Manial Palace

After a decade of closure, the Hunting Museum in Manial Palace is to be reopened soon. Written By/ Nevien El-Aref.

Mummified gazelle heads
In the arched corridor beneath the walls of the Manial Palace in Cairo where the Hunting Museum is located, curators, restorers, designers and workers are all racing against the clock to reach the deadline for the museum’s reopening.

Armed with yellow helmets and grey gloves, workers are putting the showcases in position, while restorers with their white gowns and technical tools are installing a skeleton of a camel that once transported the Kaaba cover, a vast piece of embroidery, from Cairo to Mecca in the early 1900s.

“Work is at full swing,” Elham Salah, head of the Museums Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that the Hunting Museum was scheduled to be officially reopened in mid-February during the mid-term school holiday after a decade of closure.

She said that when Manial Palace was officially inaugurated in 2013 after restoration work, the Hunting Museum was not among the halls that were opened to public. Last month, with a budget of LE140,000 provided by the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, the Museums Department began the renovation and restoration of the museum in order to open it to the public during the mid-term holiday.

Salah and Badawi inspecting the displaying scenario
The museum displays preserved animals, birds and skeletons from the collection of former King Farouk and Princes Mohamed Ali Tewfik and Youssef Kamal collected during their hunting trips. “Among the most beautiful and unique collection on display is the butterfly collection of prince Mohamed Ali Tewfik, the former owner of Manial Palace,” Salah said, adding that the collection consisted of 7,000 butterflies. 

Sameh Al-Masri, the designer of the museum’s galleries, has brought the aura of the jungle into the galleries of the Hunting Museum, Salah said, adding that the roar of lions, sound of chickens, screech of eagles, and trumpeting of elephants would echo on the audio system. Visual effects would be used to suggest something of the ambiance in which the objects on display were collected.

Walaa Badawi, director of the Manial Palace, told the Weekly that the story of the museum started after the 1952 Revolution when an inventory was carried out of the property of members of Egypt’s former royal family.

When the committee in charge of the inventory detected a large collection of animals and birds, a section of the arched corridor beneath the palace walls was transformed into a Hunting Museum with 15 galleries displaying 10,000 animals and birds from the collection of former King Farouk, who was very fond with hunting, and princes Youssef Kamal from his palace in Matariya and Mohamed Ali Tewfik in Manial Palace.

The museum was inaugurated in 1963, closing in 2007 for restoration. Even after the reinauguration of the palace, the museum remained closed, however. “In 2015, I took the initiative to call for the restoration of the Hunting Museum as it is unique of its kind in Egypt,” Badawi said. Funds were found earlier this year, and restoration work started by restorer Manal Abdel-Moneim and her team. Some of the animals were in bad condition due to temperature and humidity fluctuations, but much of the damage was reversibl......READ MORE.

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