The unveiling on Wednesday was the latest step in the government’s ambitious $500 million project for the Grand Museum of Egypt, which is intended to gather in one spot at the foot of the Great Pyramids some 100,000 artefacts, many of which have been sitting in warehouses for decades with no room to display them.
Egypt is negotiating with the Japanese Bank for International Development for a loan for the project and plans its own fund-raising drive. The $40 million that Egypt hopes to raise from a current tour of King Tutankhamun artefacts in the United Sates will go toward the project.
Officials hope to start building on the site later this year and to complete construction by 2009, the Supreme Council for Antiquities said.
The museum will be set embedded in a desert plateau at the edge of the Nile valley, about 2km from the Great Pyramids, according to a model shown to journalists by the designers, the Irish firm Heneghan.Ping Architects, on Wednesday.
The museum at the pyramid is
The dramatically angled roof is aligned with the monuments. A line drawn from one edge of the roof would touch the tip of the pyramid of Cheops – the largest of the three – and the other edge points toward peak of the smaller Khefre pyramid.
The 600-metre facade of the building will be covered with translucent alabaster. “At night, this will be illuminated and glow,” Yasser Mansour, head of the Egyptian government’s technical committee for the project, said.
A large triangular gate in the facade leads into the museum, which boasts some 38,000 square metres of exhibition halls.
“The museum is situated at the juncture where the fertile valley meets the desert, which for the ancient Egyptians was the land of life after death,” Mansour said.
“This will be Tut’s final resting place.”
The museum will house King Tut’s mummy and the nearly 4000 artefacts discovered in his tomb in 1922.
“The museum is
The Sun Boats, believed used to transport Cheops’ body and now housed in their own museum near the pyramids, will be brought into the Grand Museum, as will a 83-tonne statue of Ramses II currently located in a busy square in front of Cairo’s main train station.
Cairo’s existing Egyptian Museum, which turned 100 last year, was originally designed to exhibit about 5000 artefacts.
With too little exhibition space, many of the more than 100,000 pharaonic, Coptic, Greco-Roman and Islamic artefacts now in the government’s collection are stored in basements and warehouses.
Egyptian officials say they hope the new museum at the pyramids will attract an additional three million visitors a year to the country.