Thursday, 29 June 2006

Coptic treasures get the home they deserve

Al Ahram Weekly by Nevine El-Aref

Mogamaa Al-Adian, Old Cairo's religious compound, is finally free of the roar of trucks and lorries that have blocked the entrance to the Coptic Museum for three years now. And the museum itself, with its limestone fa├žade loosely based on the Al-Aqmar Mosque, has finally opened its doors to visitors in an area the attractions of which include the Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas, the Hanging Church and the Synagogue of Beni-Ezra.

On Monday President Hosni Mubarak formally opened the museum during a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and scores of Egyptian ministers and senior government officials. The president was guided through the museum's 26 galleries, containing 13,000 items, by Culture Minister Farouk Hosni and Supreme Council of Antiquities' Secretary-General Zahi Hawass. They also watched a 15-minute documentary film on the restoration of the museum.

"The restoration of the Coptic Museum was an ambitious project," says Hosni. "It is one of Cairo's oldest museums and its restoration is an illustration of the government's commitment to preserving the nation's Coptic, as well as its Pharaonic and Islamic, heritage."

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Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Mubarak inaugurates refurbished Coptic Museum

"In his address during the opening ceremony, Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said the Coptic Museum is one of Egypt's most important museums as it houses a huge collection of artefacts dating to the Coptic era.

President Mubarak watched a documentary on the restoration of the museum and the methods of display of 1,300 items in 26 halls. Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Zahi Hawass said during a tour of the museum by the President that the restoration project included the addition of a new hall devoted to the history of churches in Old Cairo. A hall for temporary exhibitions has also been built, Hawass added. The restoration project, which was carried out by a group of Egyptian experts, began in 2003, Hawass said.. . . . President Mubarak heard a presentation by Ezzat Naguib, director general for restoration works on the Coptic Museum on manuscripts in the museum. The manuscripts, of which some date back to the 4th century AD, including 13 bibles and several exhibits obtained from monasteries in Egypt. . . . Head of the icons section Mervat Megalli briefed President Mubarak on the icon exhibits that range between 300 and 600 years old. Most of the icons are of the Virgin Mary, Christ and a number of saints."

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