Permanent site at the pyramids – The Bite


A kind of colossal fan of concrete, steel and light-colored glass sits on the desert slope, with the pyramids of Giza on the plateau beyond. The Grand Egyptian Museum is taking shape, and we can already guess how groups of schoolchildren and tourists will frolic on the square next to the palm trees.

Ten years after the start The only question that remains after the construction work is: when will it finally open? Basically, only a few final steps were missing, the Ministry of Antiquities said in February. The structural work, the glass roof and the large exterior staircase are complete, the interior fittings “at 99.8%” and the exterior spaces “at 98%”. The GEM, as it is abbreviated, would have a collection of 99,000 artifacts and a site area equivalent to 70 football fields, to become the largest museum in the world, one dedicated to a single civilization.

Already 1992 announced

However, the Louvre planned for ancient treasures has gradually turned into a permanent construction site, which evokes memories of a certain Berlin airport. Exactly ten years ago, on March 12, 2012, the real start of the GEM construction work was celebrated. President Hosni Mubarak 1992, who died in the meantime, laid the foundation stone and 900 initial works began. The project was already announced 900. 70 years have passed since then.

An opening date has not yet been set, it is said in Cairo. “I want kings, queens and heads of state at the opening ceremony,” Antiquities Minister Chalid al-Anani told the German Press Agency last summer. However, an event with 600 or more guests is not possible in the corona pandemic. “I want to celebrate this event. I think it will be the biggest opening in Egypt’s recent history,” the minister said.

Besides the pandemic, the revolution and political upheavals of 2011 have lagged behind. Additionally, there was a lack of money in Egypt’s economic slump. According to reports, the estimated construction costs now amount to the equivalent of more than 900 million euros and therefore approximately double the initial estimates. 2015 asked the news site “Al-Monitor”: Will the museum ever open?

Visitors should still be amazed when they see the monumental atrium looming at one point in front of the eleven meter tall statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II. 5000 years of history should come to life here in a wide arc, from ancient Egypt to Greco-Roman times. A particular highlight: the treasure from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, which will be exhibited in its entirety for the first time. The showrooms in the building by Irish architects Heneghan Peng were designed by Atelier Brückner in Stuttgart.

Visual axes with the pyramids

It is quite possible that some visitors feel a little lost. Even an eleven-meter-tall Ramses II might look small in the huge hall, and who wants to see thousands of artifacts on a visit? But the GEM, which is connected to the pyramids by visual axes, is also likely to be transformed into a structural extension and a modern interpretation of the famous ancient buildings, writes the magazine “Architectural Digest”.

The child King Tutankhamun could meanwhile be a key to guessing the opening date. November 4 marks the anniversary of the discovery of her burial chamber by British archaeologist Howard Carter 99. Times. The Egyptian government particularly likes to stage antiquities with a lot of pathos and symbolic power. An opening of the GEM on that day, said Egyptologist Zahi Hawass a few months ago, would be “a world event”. (dpa)

Alice F. Ponder