08 Oct 2021

The Egyptian Museum: All You Need to Know

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known as the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, is the place to go for all things ancient history in Egypt.

It features 120,000 ancient artefacts that include mummies, sarcophagi, jewellery, and other treasures. The museum also showcases thousands of sculptures from Egypt’s famous archaeological sites.

With so much on show, which artefacts and exhibits should you go and see? Well, in this guide I’m going to talk you through all the best exhibits and things to see, and tell you all you need to know before you go!

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The Location

The Egyptian Museum is located in the heart of Cairo, in Tahrir Square on the bank of the Nile River. This means it’s roughly 7.5 miles (12km) from the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, and you can travel between them by taxi.

If you’re looking for it in Cairo, it’s unmissable with its imposing exterior décor and the replica Sphinx statues guarding the main entrance!

The entrance to the Egyptian Museum with replica of Sphinx on display
The entrance to the Egyptian Museum | Credit: Egyptian Streets

The History

The Egyptian Museum contains many important pieces of ancient Egyptian history, and artefacts gathered from Egypt’s ancient landmarks were housed in the original museum built in 1835. It would later move to a new location in the Cairo Citadel.

In 1855, the artefacts would follow Archduke Maximilian of Austria to his home country, and they’re now housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which you can read more about here!

The museum we know today has been standing since 1902. This museum will stand until the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is due to supersede it.

A stone tablet containing Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics

The Layout

There are two main floors in the museum, the ground floor and the first floor. On the first floor there is an extensive collection of large-scale works in stone including statues, reliefs and architectural elements. These are arranged chronologically in clockwise fashion, from the pre-dynastic to the Greco-Roman period. Here you can find papyri, coins, textiles, and an enormous collection of wooden sarcophagi.

On the first floor there are artefacts from the final two dynasties of Egypt. These include items from the tombs of the Pharaohs, as well as many artefacts from the Valley of the Kings.

There are two special rooms that contain a number of mummies of kings. They also contain other royal family members of the New Kingdom.

The ground floor of the Egyptian Museum with artefacts on display
The ground floor of the Egyptian Museum

The Exhibits

There are many famous exhibits here. So why not start with the best and most well-known part of the museum? The Egyptian Museum houses the largest collection of Tutankhamun’s treasures and relics in the entire world!

While the famous pharaoh himself can be found in the Valley of the Kings, many of his treasures, including the iconic death mask, are right here in the museum!

The museum’s exhibits span from the beginning of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt through the Greco-Roman period. The exhibits are arranged chronologically to guide you through the eras. This provides a good background for most of Egypt’s ancient history.

You will also find the room dedicated to he beautiful jewellery discovered in the Royal Tombs of Tanis. Another highlight of the museum is the Royal Mummy Room. Inside lie some of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs, including Ramesses II, Seti I, and Egypt’s only queen, Hatshepsut.

If you want to learn a little more about the history before you visit, check out our post on Ancient Egypt here!

A display of four canopic jars with the heads of four different Egyptian Gods
Canopic jars on display, which were used to store organs during mummification

The Future

When it opens, the Grand Egyptian Museum will supersede the Egyptian Museum. The current pandemic is delaying the grand opening, however many of the artefacts are currently being transferred over to their new exhibits.

The new museum will open in 2022 and plans to become the largest archaeological museum in the world! It will house many ancient Egyptian artefacts.

However, the museum in Tahrir will still be the major spot for the ancient Egyptian heritage, even after the opening of the Grand Museum.

Artist's impression of the Grand Egyptian Museum
The Grand Egyptian Museum | Credit: ELMENS

Thank You From easyGuide

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