New Cairo museum under construction

Museum will be first to showcase evolution of Egyptian civilisation

The new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in Cairo, currently under construction, is expected to be partially opened by the end of this year.

Situated in the historic al-Fustat district of Cairo's Old City, the new facility will house 50,000 artefacts from perhistoric times to the modern age. The core permanent exhibition will be built around six galleries based on the themes: Dawn of Civilisation; The Nile; Writing, State and Society; Material Culture; Beliefs and Thinking; and the Gallery of the Royal Mummies.

It will also have specific areas devoted to influential figures in Egyptian history such as pharaohs, kings, scientists, writers and explorers. There will be eight main exhibition halls, six secondary halls, various laboratories and educational and scientific research centres, as well as a large shop and a library.

The museum is under the auspices of the ministry of antiquities and its construction is funded by Egyptian and international cultural organisations including UNESCO, which recently granted it $300 million as well as expert technical advice.

The site is surrounded by historic buildings such as the Amr ibn al-Aas mosque, the Saladin Citadel, the Ben Ezra Synagogue and the Coptic Museum, and the building will overlook Ain El-Sira Lake and al-Fustat garden.

The museum has been in the pipeline since 1982 and the first stage of construction began in 2004. The building's design is the work of Egyptian architect El Ghazzali Kosseiba, while the exhibition spaces are being designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki.