– By Alaa El Sherbini
History in The Making
On a vast empty space, 2 kilometers away from the Great Pyramids, you used to see bricks forming an unrecognizable shape, never fully developed. As years went by these bricks became a massive modern design with intricate details, home to what we know now as The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), greeting you with majestic presence from afar encompassing the monuments of hundreds of years documented on stone.
This long anticipated project dates back to 2002 when discussions first arose, and since then the project has been in slow-motion progress. You might remember back in 2006 when the famous statue of Ramesses II was moved from the heart of Ramses Square to the Giza plateau, thinking to yourself the Grand Museum is only a few years away from opening. A decade later, and we can finally say that the move of Ramesses II was not for nothing, as we await the opening of the GEM in the last quarter of 2020.
Overcoming Challenges and Expected Timeline
General Atef Moftah, the Civil Engineer and General Supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum directly appointed by President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in February 2016 to handle the project, explains that despite facing some challenges with funding, they have now succeeded in completing 96.5% of the museum’s construction, organization and transforming of monuments.
“In the span of 3 years, the percentage of completion increased by 80%, jumping from 17% to 96.5%. Now the GEM has become a topic of conversation all over the world,” said General Moftah.
Racing time with dedication and passion, General Motfah assures us that the 4% left to open the GEM’s doors are related to minor finishes of the main gallery building, testing the over 50 web infrastructures that this project contains, the installation of antiquities and the organizing and testing of King Tutankhamun’s display vitrines.
Yes, it is true, there is an entire room dedicated to King Tut, known as the Golden King, and his treasures in a space that exceeds 7,000 square meters. A total of 105 vitrines will display approximately 5,000 of King Tut’s pieces.
“For the first time ever, all the treasures and belongings of King Tut, most of which have never been shown before, will be displayed in the same place,” said General Moftah.
With tens of thousands of timeless artifacts awaiting installation, the museum will take you back in time on a rich journey through the age of the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. 70 grand pieces have already been set up and placed on pedestals in the main gallery space. But there is still work to be done in exhibiting the rest of the artifacts, which will showcase all the phases of Egyptian history including Ramses II and the pyramids plateau and heritage covering a total space of 19,000 square meters.
“The GEM is not solely a showcasing gallery for monuments, but a rich and complex space with a range of educational, historical, cultural and commercial activities and facilities,” General Moftah stated with pride. The GEM is built to become a focal point that provides an enriching experience for the Egyptian people, as well as for tourists and foreigners.
If you think a few hours will be enough to visit the new museum, then think again. Besides the precious antiquities, there will be a 3D cinema, meeting rooms, laboratories, learning spaces, specialized viewing rooms for researchers, a food court, gardens, open art spaces, and two large restaurants overlooking the Pyramids. There is also a small children’s museum within the grand museum for children to learn about the architecture, engineering, sculpting, and rebirth of ancient Egypt.
So, when exactly will it open? That we do not know for sure. General Moftah says they are working on completing it on time, but nobody can predict what will actually happen since world events affect the overall completion date.
Stay tuned for the big opening, 2020 just might end on a historically festive note!
Check out the Grand Egyptian Museum’s official Facebook page from this link.