About 20 years ago, the Egyptian government held an international competition for the design of a new museum near the pyramids of Giza. Now, after decades of planning, one of the longest-awaited and most highly anticipated institutions in the world is getting ready for its christening.
The Great Egyptian Museum (GEM) has announced it will finally open its doors in 2023, and when it debuts, the complex will be home to the largest, most complex collection of ancient treasures and artifacts in the world. Designed by Dublin-based Heneghan Peng Architects, the striking new institution is located outside of Cairo, and perhaps the only thing more impressive than its offerings is its scale. The structure clocks in at over 5.2 million square feet. Once the museum is up and running, it is expected to welcome around 15,000 visitors per day, a whopping five million guests a year.
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“This will be the museum of the 21st century. All means of modern technology have been taken into consideration in order to make this an unforgettable experience for the visitor, but at the same time provide the best possible environment for the artifacts,” director general, Tarek Tawfik, told CNN back in 2019.
Of the new museum’s most precious relics are those belonging to the famous King Tutankhamun. In fact, the entire collection of treasures recovered from Tut’s tomb—about 5,000 objects—will be on display for the first time since they were discovered in 1922. At the main entrance, visitors will find a giant 3,200-year-old statue of Ramses II. In addition, GEM will also encompass an exhibition space, library, education center, children’s museum and more than 100,000 antiquities dating back from prehistoric times to Greek and Roman periods.
To be sure, the road to the museum’s opening hasn’t been smooth—or inexpensive. Leading up to this year, a combination of financial problems, political protests and environmental setbacks caused the project to be delayed. In total, GEM cost a reported $1 billion to build, nearly twice its original initial estimate of $500 million. Tawfik believes the results will be worth it, especially for country’s citizens. “Egyptians have always really held onto this project, knowing deep inside that this is something very important for them to provide a modern, safe environment for this priceless heritage,” he told CNN.
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