We spent 7 hours driving back to Cairo from Hurghada so we were not particularly fussed about heading to a museum for the afternoon. Well I wasn’t particularly fussed. I don’t do museums really. I have this super strong sense of smell and museums always feel and smell like dead things to me. Not a fan of museums.
However: we had been talking to Egyptians everywhere we went about the Egyptian artifacts that have been on display globally and what was their views on getting them all back to Egypt. 100% of the people we talked to felt very strongly that all Egyptian artifacts should be immediately handed over to Egypt based on the premise that they had actually been stolen from the Egyptian people originally. While I fully understand that opinion, and I do agree, I always asked if they considered that being able to see such spectacular items in their local museums actually brought people to Egypt.
The locals always voiced the opinion that having everything in Egypt meant that tourists would have to come to Egypt to see them. My concern is that once everything gets handed back to the Egyptians (as I 100% think it should be) is that with such limited resources Egypt won’t be able to fund these “Touring Museums” as the other wealthier countries have done and lets face it there is a certain amount of out of sight, out of mind to factor in here. I know that Egypt realises that they need to fund the restoration and care of all their antiquities, however those traveling exhibitions are always expensive and crowded. While ownership should be give back to the Egyptians, I believe that specific artifacts displayed in the big museums world wide would give people a taste of the incredible things Egypt has to offer and possibly help to restore their tourism. You see little pieces of the culture and it's got to inspire you to actually go to Egypt and see more I would have thought. But that’s just my opinion….
Anyway I digress....
So we head off to the museum expecting to spend an hour or so inside and be impressed by a few specific artifacts and less so by others. Its possible I’ve never been more wrong. The size of the collection is absolutely gobsmacking. You just can’t comprehend how much stuff they have there. They seem to be woefully underfunded and its really concerning that in 10 or 15 years, a lot of this stuff is going to be pretty much rotted away if a better storage system doesn't come about, but they are so very proud of the artifacts they have (as they should be) and are trying really hard and eagerly accepting help, which is the best start for them after such turmoil.
Its an extra fee to get into see the mask of Tutankhamen but its really worth it. You can see it from outside the room (provided the door is open) but the size and quality is amazing.
The fact that its solid gold is what's really overwhelming. We all know that they started assembling their burial requirements from youth but even then, how the hell did they have time to get all this stuff made in time?? From what we hear sometimes they didn't and the body of the Pharaoh would be mummified awaiting completion of their tomb, but even so - they were clearly a people of immense price and skill. The ancient Egyptians kicked arse!
Don’t miss the museum, and give yourself some time. Its really worth it.