The American Research Center in Eygpt




ARCE Proudly Celebrates its Role in the Repair and Rehabilitation of the Building Façade 

ARCE is proud to have been a primary partner in the repair and rehabilitation of the façade of the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, which was reopened by Egypt's President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi on January 18, 2017. The President's visit marked the official completion of repairs to the Museum of Islamic Art after a three-year process. The building was badly damaged by an early morning bomb attack that detonated 500kg of TNT in front of the Cairo Security Directorate on January 24, 2014. The Directorate stands directly opposite the Museum of Islamic Art and National Library and Archives building on Port Said Street in the historic Bab el-Khalq neighborhood. The reopened museum drew more than 25,000 visitors during the week following its reopening. As a result of the rehabilitation three new galleries and 16 new showcases were added. The new display includes 4400 items of which 400 are being displayed for the first time.

UNESCO listed the Bab el-Khalq neighborhood as a World Heritage Area in 1979 due to its “unquestionable historical, archaeological and urbanistic importance” to Cairo.Photo: Museum of Islamic Art.

The historic Neo-Mamluk building was completed and first opened to the public in 1903 by Khedive Abbas Hilmi II. Today the ground floor houses the Museum of Islamic Art managed by the Ministry of Antiquities, and the upper floor houses the Manuscript Library and Manuscript Museum of the National Library and Archives managed by the Ministry of Culture. Both institutes contain valuable examples of Islamic art, craftsmanship, and literary achievement. Together, these two collections represent one of the world’s finest and most significant repositories of Islamic artistic, literary, and cultural heritage.

President Sisi (c) tours the museum with H.E. Dr. Khaled El-Anany, Minister of Antiquities (l) and Museum of Islamic Art Director Dr. Ahmad Al-Shoky (r). Photo: Museum of Islamic Art.







Within a week of the blast ARCE visited the site and offered its technical assistance with funding from USAID. The Ministry of Antiquities, which is responsible for the building as an historic monument in itself, requested the contribution benefit both the Museum and National Archives, and requested the funds be used to repair the façade of the building.

The restoration work was funded through a grant of 1.3 million Egyptian pounds ($144,000) from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and 550,000 Egyptian pounds ($78,000) from the Government of Switzerland. Since May 2014 ARCE has worked closely with the Ministry of Antiquities Projects and Museum Sectors to repair the building’s façade.

ARCE Assistant Director Jane Smythe (2nd from left) managed the project with support from Technical Consultant Dina Bakhoum (l). Photo: J. Smythe.

As a mark of gratitude by the Egyptian Government and the Ministry of Antiquities, representatives from countries who contributed to the repair of the museum were invited to join President Sisi on January 18, for a tour of the museum. Foreign dignitaries included officials from the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Italy, and UNESCO. Representing the United States was H.E. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft. Precious artifacts housed in the building were damaged by the blast, as well as the rare Hashimi stone on the building’s façade, the Islamic style windows, various types of doors and display cases along with world-famous collections of manuscripts, documents, coins, scientific instruments and maps. It is to the credit of the authorities and local residents who came out to protect the building after the blast that all objects from both museums have been accounted for, and the conservation and repair of these objects have been ongoing throughout the years. 

Entertainment for the celebration was provided by the ethereal Sufi performer Amer El Touni and the Al Mawlaweya Al Masreya troup. Photo: J. Smythe



The public celebration for the Museum of Islamic Art was held on the evening of January 19, 2017. To mark the occasion the event was attended by the current Minister of Antiquities H.E. Dr. Khaled El-Anany as well as two former Ministers, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Ali Sayed and Dr. Mamdouh El-Damaty.



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