Last Thursday I visited the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) to view the progress of the construction of this important new museum for Egyptian antiquities.
The amazing thing about this building is how modern the design is, and its location next to the Giza plateau, with the pyramids in the background; the museum will be facing the light with an incredible view. The GEM will be a beautiful space in which visitors can experience the art and artifacts of ancient Egypt in the shadow of the pyramids.
Phase 1 of the construction was finished some time ago, and the recently completed Phase 2 includes the building of the conservation labs, energy center, and fire station. This museum now boasts perhaps the largest museum conservation labs anywhere in the world. There is nothing comparable to the size of the storage areas and the laboratories. The storage rooms have tall, movable shelves designed for secure storage and easy access of artifacts. Storage facilities will also have carefully regulated environmental controls with different sections for different types of material, for example organic or non-organic material, or low temperature storage.
The conservation labs contain state of the art equipment for the preservation and restoration of artifacts, to make this one of the best conservation labs in the world. The Conservation Center is built 10 meters below street level so that it will blend into the natural environment as well as improve security. We are planning now to move some objects chosen from the Cairo Museum to the new lab for conservation and restoration. This way, the objects will be ready to be installed in the museum when it is completed.
On Thursday, I visited with the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, to view the construction, and hold a press conference to announce the status of the project. I saw the beautiful state of the labs, they are very clean and modern, and I was impressed by the outcome of this project. The Minister and I held a press conference in the museum, where we showed a video of the history of the construction and then answered questions about the plan for the museum.
The company that will administrate the whole project has been chosen, and will shortly begin construction of the main building. We hope that this Grand Egyptian Museum will be completed three years from now, and I think the world will be very impressed when this grand museum will be unveiled.
After the press conference, we travelled to Giza to check on the progress of the site management program. The antiquities offices that we built at the base of the plateau are almost finished. Soon we will remove the old buildings on the plateau, and begin using the new offices. I plan to use my new office at Giza a few days a week, because from this office I will be able to see the Great Pyramid every day.
We also viewed the progress of the new road for electric cars. Over 90% of the road has been completed; soon when people visit Giza, they will park outside the site and ride in these electric cars to the pyramids. This will protect the monuments from the harmful effects of automobile traffic and also make visiting the site more enjoyable for tourists. We are also working on the new visitor center in front of the third pyramid, which will provide a good introduction to the site and have fun educational experiences for children. When the project is finished, visitors will be able to see the site without being bothered by people offering horse and camel rides. I have also appointed a team to begin a new project for site management in the area in front of the Sphinx. I am very happy that these projects, the Grand Egyptian Museum and the site management plan at Giza, will show the world how Egypt cares for its history.