When envisioning a journey to Egypt, the iconic image that once dominated thoughts was that of the Great Pyramids of Giza. However, in contemporary times, the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza has emerged as the most eagerly anticipated attraction in the region.
Despite facing multiple postponements in its opening, largely due to various reasons, there is a strong likelihood that the museum will finally open its doors this year. For those eagerly awaiting this significant project and those with limited insights into the museum’s offerings, we aim to highlight the captivating aspects of the museum and provide all the information necessary for a truly perfect journey.
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History of the Grand Egypt Museum “GEM”
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced plans to establish a new museum to house Egyptian historical antiquities in 1992. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo was crowded, dimly lit, and shaken by traffic. 2002 the Ministry of Culture held an international design competition outside Cairo. Dublin firm Heneghan Peng Architects was awarded the contract in 2003 and began construction in 2005.
Construction was halted for three years due to political unrest during the Arab Spring 2011. Research resumed in 2014 with international funding, but the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic halted it again. Private tours began in 2022, and the official opening was scheduled for 2023 once construction resumed.
The museum’s triangular exterior design and sloping roofs pay homage to the nearby pyramids of Giza. An entrance with translucent alabaster panels and hieroglyphic inscriptions leads to a shaded atrium housing a 3,200-year-old statue of Ramesses II. A magnificent staircase surrounded by sculptures of gods and kings leads to large exhibition rooms organized by era and themes, including religion, rulers, and society. The southeastern windows offer panoramic views of the pyramid.
The Architecture of the Grand Egyptian Museum
The ancient Egyptian pyramids and temples inspired the GEM’s architecture. The museum’s main entrance is a grand staircase that leads up to a plateau, where the main galleries are located. The museum’s facade is made of translucent stone, which changes color from day to night.
The museum’s interior is designed to be open and airy, with large windows that allow natural light to flood in. The galleries are organized chronologically so visitors can follow the development of Egyptian civilization. The museum also has several special exhibition spaces, a children’s museum, a conference center, and a conservation center.
The GEM is a landmark achievement in Egyptian architecture and museology. It is a fitting tribute to Egyptian civilization’s rich and enduring legacy.
The museum has three main exhibition halls, each dedicated to a different period of Egyptian history. The first hall will house artifacts from the Old Kingdom, the second will house artifacts from the Middle Kingdom, and the third will house artifacts from the New Kingdom.
Here are some key features:
- Size and Capacity: The museum is massive, covering an area of about 480,000 square meters.
It is designed to house over 100,000 artifacts, including the complete collection of Tutankhamun’s treasures.
- Main Building: The main building is a striking structure with a sleek, modern design.
The exterior incorporates glass panels and a limestone facade, a nod to the materials used in ancient Egyptian architecture. The building is elevated for views of the Giza Plateau and the Pyramids.
- Exhibition Halls: The museum features a series of exhibitions organized chronologically, allowing visitors to explore Egypt’s history from prehistoric times to the present.
Each hall is designed to provide a thematic and immersive experience for visitors.
- Tutankhamun Galleries: The museum includes dedicated galleries for Tutankhamun’s treasures. These galleries are expected to display the entire collection of Tutankhamun’s belongings, providing a comprehensive view of the young pharaoh’s legacy.
- Conservation Center: The Grand Egyptian Museum includes a state-of-the-art conservation center equipped with advanced technologies to preserve and maintain the artifacts in optimal conditions.
- Educational Facilities: The museum is designed as a repository of artifacts and an educational center. It includes spaces for lectures, workshops, and educational programs.
- Technology Integration: The museum incorporates modern technology, including interactive displays, multimedia presentations, and virtual reality elements, to enhance the visitor experience.
- Landscaping and Surroundings: The museum is surrounded by extensive landscaping, offering a visually appealing environment for visitors. The location provides panoramic views of the Giza Plateau and the Pyramids.
Famous Monuments in the Grand Egyptian Museum
The Grand Egyptian Museum is expected to feature several notable exhibits and monuments, including:
- Tutankhamun’s Treasures: The museum is designed to house the complete collection of treasures from the famous pharaoh Tutankhamun. This includes his golden mask, throne, chariots, jewelry, and other artifacts discovered in his Valley of the King’s tomb.
- Khufu’s Solar Boat: The museum is expected to feature a reconstructed solar boat that belonged to Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops). The original boat was discovered near the Great Pyramid of Giza and is believed to have been a vessel for the pharaoh’s journey in the afterlife.
- Statues and Sarcophagi: The Grand Egyptian Museum will showcase a vast collection of statues and sarcophagi from ancient Egyptian history. These artifacts represent the diverse artistry and religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.
- Royal Mummies: The museum is expected to house a significant collection of royal mummies, including those of famous pharaohs. This collection aims to give visitors insights into ancient Egyptian funerary practices and beliefs in the afterlife.
- Amenhotep III Colossus: The museum is expected to feature a colossal statue of Amenhotep III, one of the most powerful pharaohs of the New Kingdom. The statue, known as the Colossus of Amenhotep III, originally stood at the entrance of the pharaoh’s mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile.
- Ramesses II Statue: The Grand Egyptian Museum will likely include statues and artifacts related to Ramesses II, one of the most iconic pharaohs in ancient Egyptian history. Ramesses II’s colossal statues and monuments are found throughout Egypt, and some will be displayed in the museum.
- The Hanging Obelisk: This is a 22-meter-tall obelisk carved from a single piece of granite. It was originally erected in the temple of the pharaoh Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari.
- The statue of King Ramses II: This is a colossal statue of the pharaoh Ramses II, one of the most powerful rulers of ancient Egypt. The statue is made of pink granite and weighs over 2,000 tons.
- The ten statues of King Senusret: These are ten statues of the pharaoh Senusret I, one of the greatest kings of the Middle Kingdom. The statues are made of black granite, each over 2 meters tall.
Tutankhamun Hall in the Grand Egyptian Museum
Here are some features that were anticipated for the Tutankhamun Hall in the Grand Egyptian Museum:
- Comprehensive Display: The Tutankhamun Hall is designed to exhibit the entire collection of treasures and artifacts discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.
- Golden Mask and Funerary Goods: Visitors can expect to see Tutankhamun’s famous golden death mask, one of the most iconic artifacts from ancient Egypt.
The hall will likely display various funerary goods, including jewelry, statues, chariots, and other items buried with the young pharaoh to accompany him in the afterlife.
- Interactive Displays: The museum may incorporate modern technologies and interactive displays within the Tutankhamun Hall to enhance the visitor experience. This could include multimedia presentations, virtual reconstructions, and informative exhibits.
- Educational Information: Alongside the artifacts, there will likely be educational information explaining the historical and cultural significance of Tutankhamun’s reign, his burial practices, and the importance of the discoveries made in his tomb.
- Thematic Layout: The Tutankhamun Hall may have a thematic layout that guides visitors through different aspects of the young pharaoh’s life, death, and the treasures buried with him.
- Preservation and Conservation: Given the importance of the artifacts, Tutankhamun Hall is expected to have state-of-the-art conservation measures to ensure the long-term preservation of the displayed items.
Opening Time and Ticket Prices of the Grand Egyptian Museum
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is undergoing trial visits and is not yet open to the public. However, you can still visit certain completed museum areas with a reservation. The museum is expected to open fully in late spring 2024.
Opening Hours for Trial Visits
- Saturday to Thursday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- Friday: 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
- The last admission is 30 minutes before closing time.
Ticket Prices for Trial Visits
- Foreign Adults (21+): EGP 1000
- Foreign Students (6-20): EGP 500
- Egyptians and Arab Citizens: EGP 60
- Children under 6: Free
- Visitors with disabilities plus one caregiver: Free
- Egyptian tour guides (excluding weekends and public holidays): Free
- Egyptian Military Veterans (excluding weekends and public holidays): Free
- First-degree family members of Egyptian martyrs (excluding weekends and public holidays): Free
- Members of the International Council of Museums (ICOM): Free
- Foreign spouses of Egyptians and their children: EGP 60
How to Get to the Grand Egyptian Museum?
A new metro line is being constructed to connect the city to the Grand Egyptian Museum. Additionally, the Sphinx International Airport, in its final testing period, is located just 20 minutes away from the museum. Once completed, this airport is expected to provide a quicker and more convenient access point for visitors arriving by air.
Here are general guidelines on how to get to the Grand Egyptian Museum based on its location near the Giza Pyramids:
By Car or Taxi
The Grand Egyptian Museum is situated between the Giza Pyramids and Cairo.
In Cairo, you can take a taxi or drive to the museum. Follow signs or use navigation apps to guide you.
If you’re already in Giza, the museum will likely be easily accessible by taxi or car. Local transportation options can provide information on the best route.
Metro and Bus
Cairo has a metro system, and you might be able to reach the vicinity of the Grand Egyptian Museum using public transportation. Check the latest metro lines and bus routes to plan your journey.
Where to Stay Near the Grand Egyptian Museum
1- Le Méridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa: Experience unparalleled luxury at Le Méridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa, a 5-star establishment within a renowned hotel chain near the iconic pyramids. Revel in the breathtaking views by strolling to the pyramids or admiring them from the comfort of your room or the moon-shaped, illuminated pool in the courtyard. With a selection of Japanese, Italian, and European restaurants on-site, the hotel caters to diverse culinary preferences. Rejuvenate at the well-appointed spa or unwind at the shisha-friendly café after a day of sightseeing.
2- Marriott Mena House: Discover the ultimate luxury at Marriott Mena House, a 5-star hotel that is the closest luxury accommodation to the pyramids. It is a resort hotel and offers various services and facilities, including spas and diverse international dining options. With renovated rooms and bathrooms ensuring cleanliness, the hotel provides 24-hour in-room dining, featuring breakfast and evening snacks. Enjoy panoramic pyramid views throughout the property and find numerous photogenic spots within this establishment.
3- Mercure Cairo Le Sphinx: Embrace sophistication at Mercure Cairo Le Sphinx, a 5-star hotel near the Grand Egyptian Museum and the pyramids. Modernly adorned in warm olive green and burgundy tones, guest rooms offer a comfortable retreat. Some rooms provide stunning views of the pyramids or lush gardens. The hotel boasts a fitness center, sauna, and relaxing outdoor pool. Indulge your palate at the main restaurant with oriental cuisine or savor grilled dishes from Egyptian and French wines at the R&J Lounge.
Attractions Around the Grand Egyptian Museum
The Grand Egyptian Museum, located near the Giza Plateau, is surrounded by numerous fascinating attractions that offer visitors a deeper exploration of Egypt’s rich history and culture. Here are some notable attractions around the Grand Egyptian Museum:
- Pyramids of Giza: Just a short distance from the Grand Egyptian Museum, the Pyramids of Giza, including the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, are iconic symbols of ancient Egypt. Visitors can explore the pyramids, the Sphinx, and the surrounding archaeological area.
- The Sphinx: Adjacent to the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a pharaoh’s head. It’s a must-visit site and a popular subject for photographs.
- Giza Plateau: Necropolis and Tombs: Explore the Giza Plateau further to discover additional tombs and structures that were part of the ancient necropolis. These sites provide insights into the burial practices and beliefs of ancient Egyptians.
- Saqqara Necropolis: A short drive from the Grand Egyptian Museum, Saqqara is home to the Step Pyramid of Djoser, one of the earliest pyramid structures in Egypt. The site includes numerous tombs and mastabas, offering a glimpse into the evolution of pyramid construction.
- Memphis: The ancient city of Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt, is near Saqqara. Visitors can explore the open-air museum, which features colossal statues, sphinxes, and other artifacts from Memphis.
- Imhotep Museum: Situated near the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, the Imhotep Museum is dedicated to the ancient Egyptian architect and physician Imhotep. The museum displays artifacts related to the history of Saqqara and the development of ancient Egyptian civilization.
- Tomb of Meresankh III: This tomb in Giza is renowned for its well-preserved scenes depicting daily life in ancient Egypt. It belongs to Meresankh III, a granddaughter of Khufu.
What Will Happen to the Old Egyptian Museum?
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza was under construction and set to become the primary museum for Egyptian antiquities. The GEM was designed to showcase a vast collection of artifacts, including those from the Tutankhamun exhibit, in a modern and spacious facility.
As for the old Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, Cairo’s plans for its future use were not definitively outlined then. However, there were discussions about repurposing the old museum for different purposes, such as transforming it into a cultural or educational center. The goal was to ensure that the historical and architectural significance of the building would be preserved.