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What Is the Egyptian Museum?

By Lumara Lee
Updated: May 23, 2024

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo houses the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world. Also known as the Egyptian Museum, the building has more than 100 hallways and two floors containing 100 rooms filled with exhibits. The museum has eight sections featuring authentic art and artifacts from different periods of Egyptian history spanning 5,000 years. Thousands of ancient treasures including jewelry, mummies, gold, funerary masks, sarcophagi, and other artifacts secured from tombs are housed in the Egyptian Museum.

Many treasures had been robbed from tombs and the Egyptian Antiquities Service was formed to put a stop to the pilfering. It was decided that the treasures should be collected and stored in a secure location, so the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities was established. When the collection grew, the museum changed its location to the grand building that houses the ancient treasures today. Over a million foreigners visit the Egyptian Museum every year in addition to half a million Egyptians.

Large statues, ancient coins and papyri occupy the first floor of the Egyptian Museum. These ancient coins were minted in various metals, including bronze, silver, and gold. Many of these ancient coins are Egyptian, but there are also Roman, Islamic, and Greek coins in the collection. Most of the papyri have been reduced to fragments due to their great age, and they are written in various languages. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs can be seen on some papyri, while others were written in the Latin, Arabic, and Greek alphabets.

Two of the most famous exhibits can be seen on the second floor of the Egyptian Museum: the treasures of King Tutankhamen, commonly known as King Tut, and the Mummy Room, which features a number of royal mummies. The King Tut exhibit has many priceless artifacts on display including the famous Gold Mask, which was the king’s funerary mask. Some of the other treasures in the King Tut exhibit are thrones, statues, jewelry, furniture, and his sarcophagus. The alabaster canopic chest used to house the king’s internal organs, as was the custom when preparing a mummy before entombment, can also be viewed in this exhibit.

Although the Egyptian Museum was created to protect antiquities, the museum is willing to loan collections to other museums. Some of the items in the King Tut exhibit, for example, have traveled around the world. By loaning collections to other museums, the Egyptian museum raises funds to support its exhibits and allows people who may never visit Egypt the opportunity to see treasures from the ancient world.

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Discussion Comments
By jcraig — On Apr 02, 2012

@Emilski - That is a wonderful story and goes to show exactly how many priceless treasures are kept in the museum.

People must realize that the Museum in Cairo has so much to offer, but is not like other museums as it only offers exhibits based on one culture, unlike other museums that will show the change over time.

I usually am not attracted to places like this, but this place is an exception as it is such an alluring time in history and such a unique culture that just one building does not give it due justice.

I am wondering if there are other places in Egypt or other museums in general that offer as much as the Museum in Cairo or if this it the main museum of Egyptian based exhibits?

By Emilski — On Apr 02, 2012

@stl156 - I absolutely agree. When I was a child one of the first things I ever remember reading was that of the story of King Tut. This story of the boy king started a love of Egypt for me that has lasted to this day. It was also one of the reasons I decided to become a history major in college and continue on in my graduate studies.

That being said, the treasures of King Tut started this whole drive toward Egyptian studies and the fact that his treasures are only kept in this museum only adds to the allure of the building.

I know that they do loan out some parts of the exhibit, but they never loan out the most famous treasures, like the iconic death mask, except for one instance in the 1970's on a world wide tour.

I would like to someday go to this place and be able to see the treasures that started my love of history and be able to connect to the people of the past and be able to fully appreciate again now what I did when I was a young boy.

By stl156 — On Apr 01, 2012

@matthewc23 - I absolutely agree. The Museum in Cairo is such a unique museum in that it only deals with Egyptian culture, but the culture of Egypt is so unique and the artifacts left behind is so incredible that one must be enthralled every time they step inside the museum and see the priceless artifacts.

I know that the artifacts that the ancient leaders of Egypt, the Pharaoh's, left have significant monetary value, but one cannot put a price on the uniqueness as well as the historical value of these artifacts as they are left over from a lost time in history that we may never see again and are only beginning to come to terms and understand.

The artifacts in the museum are something that anyone who sees embodies the true essence of exotic treasure and the holy grail of what one hopes to find in archaeological adventures. These treasures are what brought many people into the field and renewed interest and the love of history around the world.

By matthewc23 — On Apr 01, 2012

The whole essence of Egyptian artifacts is that they are completely unique and unlike any other types of historical artifacts ever seen in any other place in the world.

The fact that the uniqueness of these artifacts is something that is only found in the local region of Egypt, which is very small in the geographical scale, there is an effort made to find and preserve these artifacts and this was a major problem in the past early on as looters took to the Valley of the Kings to steal these priceless treasures for monetary gain.

The Museum in Cairo allows people the chance to see these wonders and protects the artifacts from looters who do not appreciate the historical value of these artifacts, but rather just what they are worth and the precious metal inside them.

The Museum in Cairo does a justice to the public by displaying these items and does a justice to history for protecting these precious artifacts with limitless historical value.

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