Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, Cairo
While this famous museum is often called The Cairo Museum, it is actually The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. It is a a fascinating, overwhelming, incredible place.
Mark had been to Cairo before, and he kept telling me that the museum was a disorganzied collection, with coffins and statues just stacked in the halls. I didn't really believe him -- until we walked in and found stacks upon stacks of coffins and statues stacked in the hall.
Only a fraction of the collectin of the museum is on display, and some of the cabinets haven't been opened for decades, if the layer of dust is any indication. THings are not labelled clearly (sometimes not at all) so a good guide or guidebook is a necessity.
The museum (which really is the odd coral color of the photos!) opened in 1902 under the patronage of Marriette. It is too small now -- and there are plans for a larger museum near the Giza plateau to house the enormous collection.
THere are roughly 136000 items on display, including the grave goods of the pharoah Tutankhamun and the Royal Mummy Room. In the basement are a further 40-50,000 items -- some of the larger statues have sunk into the cellar floors among the pillars supporting the upper floors.
There are independent guides who will accost you in the outdoor garden, offering their services inside for a reasonable fee (no more than $20 or so) for a two hour tour. They are registered with the museum and follow strict rules about how to approach you and who is allowed to offer their services. It is well worth the price to have a guide for your first visit through the museum -- they'll hit the high points and make sure you see the true treasures in the musejm.
There are new cassette tours avaialble as well -- from a kiosk in the main lobby, you can rent a player and get a walking tour of the major exhibits. We bought a copy of the Guide to the Egyptian Museum at the bookstore just inside the door and wandered on our own on the second trip.
Note that no photos and no guides are allowed inthe Royal Mummy Room. It's interesting, but I was a bit disappointed at the steep price to see eleven royal mummies.
We took many pictures in the museum, and I"m sure better ones exist elsewhere, but the pages following have some of the highlights.