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March 29, 2023

First Look: The New Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt

We recently returned from Cairo, Egypt, where we enjoyed an exclusive preview of the Grand Egyptian Museum, one of the most anticipated museum openings in recent years. Under construction for over a decade, the GEM is slated to open in late 2023 and will be one of the largest archaeological museums in the world dedicated to a single civilization.

The state-of-the-art museum is conveniently located near the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, making it ideal for visitors to combine both sites for a comprehensive experience. The GEM will complement its bucket-list neighbors with an extensive treasure trove of ancient Egyptian artifacts and research, education and conservation departments.

Designed by the Irish architecture firm Heneghan Peng Architects, the translucent alabaster facade changes throughout the day, creating a sense of harmony with the desert landscape. The design of the complex echoes the pyramids, including the geometric angels, sightlines and gallery windows that perfectly frame views of the pyramids.

The enormous museum will showcase thousands of ancient Egyptian artifacts, many of which have not been seen in public before. Highlights include the entire collection of Tutankhamun’s tomb, around 5,000 artifacts. In addition to the iconic gold funeral mask, coffins and chariots, the display will also include jewelry, textiles and games and more as well as a reconstruction of the tomb.

During our behind-the-scenes preview of the museum, we saw the 3,000-year-old colossal statue of Ramses II—the first significant artifact installed in the museum—that will greet visitors in the entrance Atrium.

Behind him, a series of monumental sculptures of pharaohs will ascend the grand staircase that leads to the galleries showcasing the Tutankhamun collection. The overall effect is a grand pharaonic welcome reception to this long anticipated, billion-dollar temple to Egyptology.

A highlight of our visit was the conservation complex. We watched conservators work on ancient artifacts in underground laboratories, including incredible pieces from Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Seeing the cleaning and restoration of these tangible pieces of ancient Egypt that will soon be on display was incredible.

The famous Khufu solar boat is set to be another highlight of the new museum. Discovered in pieces at the foot of the Great Pyramid in the 1950s, it has recently relocated from the Solar Boat Museum to its new home in the Grand Egyptian Museum. The ancient wooden vessel from around 2500 BC, reconstructed to its former glory as a ritual barge, has long been a favorite with visitors to the pyramids.

The GEM will feature the latest technology, including virtual reality. The complex includes 12 exhibition halls, an interactive children’s museum, a conference center, cafes, restaurants, and gardens that reference the Nile River.

Grand Egyptian Museum

Contact Artisans of Leisure about a private luxury Egypt tour that includes an Egyptologist guide, exclusive access to bucket-list sites and entrance to renowned museums including the Grand Egyptian Museum. Throughout Egypt, Artisans of Leisure can also arrange after-hours visits to top museums and ancient sites.

Grand Egyptian Museum

Destinations:  Africa, Egypt

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