Friday 13 September 2013

A Museum Tour With a Difference

Nancy A. Youssef, 'Egyptian Museum and its ancient artifacts feel the nation’s ills' Miami Herald, September 12, 2013
Yasmin el Shazly, an Egyptologist, last gave a VIP tour through the Egyptian Museum two years ago, before the uprising just outside the museum doors in Tahrir Square led to the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak. Before that, el Shazly once lectured Paris Hilton and Charlize Theron about the world’s greatest collection of Egyptian artifacts. Now the museum is an empty monument to a nation shunned by tourists and unwilling, or perhaps unable, to preserve its history, both recent and ancient. As el Shazly prepared to return to work after a 15-month maternity leave, she stopped by her office and discovered a museum all but abandoned since the ouster July 3 of former President Mohammed Morsi, a development that officials say killed the last vestiges of tourism here. Shocked by the emptiness of the world’s oldest museum building, el Shazly offered to give her friends a VIP tour earlier this week.
Well, I hope she's been misquoted here because surely the building was constructed in the time of Khedive Abbass Helmi II, beginning in 1897, and it was opened in 1902 . Look at the decoration on the facade. Anyway, an interesting article, it's a shame that so few turned up, she deserved more. I'm not so sure about the parallels between Morsi and Akhenaton, but... I was struck by this:
One woman was so disturbed by the dirt on the window-paned roof – the same roof the looters climbed through during the 2011 uprising to steal 54 artifacts – that she climbed up herself to clean it.
Well, the question is did they "come down through the roof" at all? I am not at all convinced that there is any evidence that they did, so it is interesting to see the story still being repeated like a mantra. And what a shame that only now did somebody notice how disgustingly filthy dirty those windows were - even in the days when the Museum had loads of tourists (money coming in and reason to clean the place up a bit).

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