Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo, re-opened after several years’ redevelopment
The complete restoration and reorganisation of the Museum of Islamic Art, hosting one of the richest collections worldwide, constitutes a major investment of the Egyptian government (Ministry of Culture) in the field of cultural development. After its reopening the museum will once more stand as a beacon of Islamic culture, art and history.
The Museum of Islamic Art has arguably the largest collection of Islamic artefacts in the world, comprising over 100,000 pieces covering all branches of Islamic art throughout the Islamic period. The acquisitions date from the first days of the Islamic period starting from the Arab conquest of Egypt in the year 20 AH (641 AD) until the Ottoman period. Its collection comprises the arts of Islamic countries from Samarkand in the east to the Arab Maghreb countries and Andalusia in the west.
The extensive collection is a rich research resource for historians, students and visitors from all walks of life interested in the history of Islamic civilisation and its contribution to the sciences of Medicine, Architecture and Astronomy, and to the arts and crafts used to create and embellish artefacts.
The Museum's collections include manuscripts on medicine and herbs, instruments used in medicine and surgery and astronomical tools, such as astrolabes, compasses and astrological balls, and metalwork, glass vessels, ceramics, jewellery, armoury, wood, ivory, textiles and carpets. Numerous masterpieces reveal the superior levels of taste, craftsmanship and beauty attained by Muslim artists in many fields.
The artefacts were previously displayed in 23 halls divided according to historical period and material. The development carried out in the Museum in 1983–84 was an important stage in expanding the display area where two more halls were added to display textiles and carpets in addition to a storeroom in the upper storey. A separate hall was dedicated to numismatics on the first floor. An additional open-air area was annexed to the right-hand side of the Museum on the site of a former gas station.
In 2003, a new phase of comprehensive development was begun. It involved the construction of a new three-storey administrative building to house the staff offices, a library, a restoration department and a lecture hall. The display plan was modified to allocate the right-hand side of the main entrance to Islamic art in Egypt, from the Umayyads until the Ottoman period. The left-hand side contains halls dedicated to Islamic art outside Egypt, from Turkey and Persia, together with thematic rooms, with halls representing science, architecture, water and gardens, and a hall of calligraphy, epigraphy, tombstones and sarcophagi abounding in writings indicating names and dates of the deceased, which is very important in the study of the movement of Arab tribes and social aspects in the Islamic periods and countries.
The development works have now been completed, with the installation of the central air-conditioning, alarm systems, video surveillance and modern display systems.
For further information:
Official Museum website
Profile of the Museum
Highlights from the Islamic art collection