At the foot of the pyramids of Giza, a new museum is taking shape.
Five thousand Egyptian civil engineers are hard at work to complete the Grand Egyptian Museum. Construction began 16 years ago, and the doors are expected finally to open in early 2019.
One of the firms attached to the build is Buro Happold Engineering. They say the museum will be a construction where ‘mathematical precision meets elegant vision.'
The initial call for proposals for the museum was in 2002. The winning designers were Heneghan Peng from Dublin, Ireland. They worked alongside Arup, an independent firm of designers, planners, and engineers. The exhibition design was completed by Metaphor and Cultural Innovations Ltd.
It is expected to assume a 50 hectare stretch of land and will go down as one of the most audacious museum builds in world history. Director General of the museum, Tarek Tawfik told CNN:
“This will be the museum of the 21st century. All means of modern technology have been taken into consideration in order to make this an unforgettable experience for the visitor, but at the same time provide the best possible environment for the artifacts.”
The museum's construction is expected to cost US $1 billion. Inside it are the country's most marvelous relics and artifacts of the past. The Colossus of Ramses II, weighing in at 121 tonnes, (already transported across Egypt) is to be moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum. He will be standing tall above the visitors at the museum’s entrance.
A Horus God statue has also been transferred from Al-Masalah Garden in Zamalek to the Grand Egyptian Museum.
The building has been constructed to resemble a chamfered triangle — a homage to the pyramids. Built on a sand hill, engineers had their work cut out for them. Tawfik said:
“This made it a bit more difficult to prepare the location, but it had the big plus point that there was no fear to stumble over antiquities here because the ancient Egyptians didn’t build any temples or carve any tombs into sand.”
Another feat of civil engineering will be an 800 meter long, 40 meter tall translucent stone wall, erected just in front of the museum. When tourists approach from the Cairo side, the translucent stone will produce a natural, inviting entrance to the museum. An 800-seat auditorium is also to be opened inside the museum.
The museum is downwind from the Giza pyramids and perfectly adjacent to the Giza pyramids, just two kilometers away. Another phase of the construction includes building a Conservation and Energy Center (CEC) that will house a conservation center, conservation plant, and a fire station.
While being an impressive feat of civil engineering, the museum will also be an enigma of conservation.
The museum will also include King Tut-Ankh-Amun's Treasure — the only complete set of royal belongings in Egyptian antiquities collections.
Two-thousand-and-six of King Tut's 5,300 possessions will be shown off in the Grand Egyptian Museum. Conservationists are in the process of polishing the artifacts with specialized techniques, ensuring not to cause any damage.
One of King Tut's sandals was said to be beyond restoring, yet it has been done and is now present in the collection. Consequently, the museum's construction has also spurred one of the most significant restoration projects in the world.
Other attractions include artifacts from Queen Hetepheres I’s tomb; these antiquities were discovered in 1925.
The museum's visitors will have the chance to look at artifacts that date back at least 3,500 years. The Egyptian government is hoping that the opening of the museum will reinvigorate its tourism industry after the instability caused during the 2011 Arab Spring.
The Grand Egyptian Museum, www.gem.gov.eg/index/Museum -Museum Building - Facade & Entrance.htm.
“Egypt's New $1 Billion Museum.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 June 2018, edition.cnn.com/style/article/grand-egyptian-museum/index.html.
“Grand Egyptian Museum.” BuroHappold Engineering, www.burohappold.com/projects/grand-egyptian-museum/.