Egypt plans renovation of museum
By TONY G. GABRIEL
CAIRO — Egypt unveiled Friday a multimillion dollar renovation project for Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum, including plans to demolish a scorched building that stands between it and the Nile River, in a bid to draw tourists back and restore a sense of normalcy after more than two years of unrest.
Organizers said they want to return the dusty, 111-year-old museum to its former glory by painting the walls and covering the floors in their original colors and patterns.
The lighting and security systems also will be upgraded to meet international standards, Minister of Antiquities Mohammed Ibrahim said, announcing the plan during a news conference in the museum’s leafy courtyard. The displays also will be rearranged, although he did not give details about how.
One of the museum’s most famous exhibits, King Tutankhamun’s treasures, will be moved to a new Grand Egyptian museum being built near the Giza pyramids. It is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
Along with the overall tourist industry, the museum has suffered in large part because of its location near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests and frequent clashes since the start of the 2011 revolution that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Violence spiked again after the July 3 military coup that ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
But the interim government that assumed power is struggling to regain control of the streets and bring back the visitors who long made Egypt a top tourist spot.
Ibrahim said the ministry’s revenues, including the entrance fees from tourist sites, fell from 111 million Egyptian pounds in October 2010 to 7 million Egyptian pounds ($1.14 million) in October 2013.
“From Tahrir, on a Friday, we are sending a positive message to the entire world: Egypt is doing well,” Ibrahim said on the anniversary of the museum’s inauguration in 1902.
Ibrahim also said his ministry planned to demolish the blackened former headquarters of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which was burned during the anti-Mubarak uprising and stands between the museum and the Nile, to create a botanical garden and an open-air museum. He said part of the new exposition area could be dedicated to the country’s popular uprisings.
The minister declined to give an exact figure for the cost of the project, but said it would likely be at least $4.3 million.
The renovation project is the result of Egyptian-German cooperation.
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