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Thursday, January 19, 2017
Re-Opening, Cairo: Cairo's Museum of Islamic Art to Open Friday After Two-Year Closure
The museum, badly damaged in a car bomb explosion in 2014, was
inaugurated Wednesday by President Sisi and other top officials. Written By/ Nevine
Qur'an - ink on parchment, Abbasid 9th century
Egypt's Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in downtown Cairo's Bab El-Khalq
area is set to open its doors to visitors Friday after two years of closure for
restoration and repair.
On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Prime Minister
Sherif Ismail and Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany inaugurated the
museum, in a ceremony attended by other top officials. The museum will offer admission to visitors free of charge beginning Friday
20 January, and continuing through Saturday the 28th.
The MIA sustained severe damage in January 2014 when a car bomb exploded
outside the adjacent Cairo Security Directorate building. The blast destroyed
the façade of the building, several columns, display cases and artifacts, as
well as the nearby Egyptian National Library and Archives building.
In 2015, nearly a year after the blast, Cairo received a grant of EGP 50
million from the United Arab Emirates to restore the museum, in collaboration
with Egyptian and foreign experts from Italy, Germany and the United States.
wooden Islamic boxes and tables
The UNESCO donated $100,000 for the restoration of the museum’s
laboratories, while the Italian government contributed €800,000 to purchase new
display cases and provide training courses to the museum’s curators.
The American Research Centre in Cairo, in collaboration with the Swiss
government, contributed EGP 1 million to restore the museum’s façade. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC,
as well as the Metropolitan Museums in New York, Germany and Austria assisted
with trainings for the MIA's curators and restorers.
“The inauguration of the MIA embodies Egypt’s
victory against terrorism, its capability and willingness to repair what
terrorism has damaged, and to stand against terrorist attempts to destroy its
heritage,” El-Enany said at the opening ceremony.
On Thursday, the museum will host a musical ceremony to celebrate the
opening, and allow media in to photograph the new and restored exhibits. Elham Salah, head of the Museums Department at the Ministry of
Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the façade, building and halls of the MIA
have been restored with state-of-the-art security and lighting systems
installed. Some aspects of the layout have changed, he added.
metal pots and pans
The souvenir hall, previously located in the centre of the museum has
been moved to the end of the visitors’ path in the museum garden. A hall displaying Islamic coins and weapons has been added, along with a
hall for Islamic manuscripts. One hall showcases the daily life of Egyptians
throughout the Islamic age, including instruments and children’s toys.
MIA Director Ahmed El-Shoki said the artifacts which were "damaged
in the explosion, and which have been restored, are integrated into the new
displays, but distinguished by a golden label placed beside them.”
The blast damaged 179 pieces, 169 of which were completely restored
while 10 pieces, all carved in glass, were found to be beyond repair. Among the
most important artifacts lost were a rare decorated Ayyubid jar and an Omayyad
plate carved in porcelain.
The MIA is home to an exceptional collection of rare woodwork and
plaster artifacts, as well as Islamic era metal, ceramic, glass, textile and
crystal pieces from all over the world. The museum is housed in a two-story building,
with the first floor open to visitors displaying 4,400 artifacts in 25