I’ve always said that one of the most amazing experiences of my life was standing under the Great Pyramid in the burial chamber and contemplating the mass sitting over my head. The trip we took to Egypt is simply one of my proudest travel moments. The Pyramids were great but the treasures were long since moved to the Egyptian Museum located in downtown Cairo on Tahrir Square. The neoclassical building was built in 1901 and has long held the great treasures of the 7000-year-old civilization.
The museum is everything you’d imagine the Egyptian museum to be but along with the glass cases and large statues, the building is showing its age. The government has done its best to retrofit the exhibits with new technology to help preserve the fragile past, but they can only do so much. The 1.5 million tourists that visit the museum each year have taken a toll on the building and it’s been decided that one of the greatest historical collections in the world needs a new home in order to preserve it for the generations to come.
The new museum called “The Grand Egyptian Museum” (GEM) will be the new home for the 120,000 artifacts featuring state-of-the-art climate-controlled housings for the collection. The new museum will no longer be located in congested Cairo, but outside the city at Giza near the Great Pyramids. And you don’t have to worry about a gaudy structure marring up the skyline near one of the most photographed locations on the planet. The Grand Egyptian Museum has a low profile and is designed to blend into the terrain.
The site chosen for the Grand Egyptian Museum is less than a mile from the Great Pyramids, and according to the 3-D renderings, it will provide amazing views of the Giza UNESCO site. Nested between the ancient Great Pyramids and the modern city of Cairo, at the junction between the dry desert and the fertile floodplain, the Grand Museum is a portal to the past. The museum complex will be built on a plot of land measuring approximately 117 feddans, about 480,000 square meters. A feddan is 4,200 square meters or 1.038 acres, making the site around 121 acres. The modern museum will not only be the repository for ancient artifacts but it will also contain interactive experiences for visitors to help them immerse themselves in the grand past of Egypt and its Pharos. The estimated cost of the project is $550 million.
I’m not always happy about modern architecture and truly love the classic look, but I know changes are necessary now and then in order to preserve our past. The Greeks did that with the new museum of the Acropolis with great success so we look forward to walking down the hall of the Grand Egyptian Museum one day. The GEM is slated to open in 2020.