Egypt’s antiquities disappearing at central museum
Cairo’s central museum located at the Tahrir Square is staring at country’s ancient artifacts degrade to irreversible state due to the lack of funds. Experts have warned that the artifacts are being kept under poor conditions and have called for action. The museum is filled with relics from the prehistoric, Roman and predominantly the era of the pharaohs. Approximately 160,000 items are exhibited dating back to 5,000 years of Egyptian history.
The museum homes the world’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities but lack of sufficient financial resources is delaying restoration projects. The museum’s director of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Wafaa Habib, said that “they need restoration, but regretfully we don’t have enough money to do anything.” “Look at the Fayoum portraits, and the mummies exhibited, they are falling apart before our own eyes,” he lamented desperately.
The museum is tasked with protecting artifacts such as King Tutankhamun but things have been out of order since the revolution began. A curator who preferred to remain anonymous said the museum doesn’t provide any information of its exhibitions despite their availability. Visitors are therefore forced to hire a guide.
Wafaa Habib outlined actual displaying conditions, especially the sun, are “damaging” the artifacts. The fragmenting of famous portraits from Sheikh Abada area in Al-Menia is an example. He said that specific temperatures, special light and ultra violet glass is necessary to conserve them.
Employees point fingers at museum bureaucracy, lacking of funding, corruption and poor management due to the inconsistency of directors. Four directors have headed the museum within 2 years. At the moment there are three directors but progress is minimal according to the staff. They are Said Amer, head director, Lotfy Abdel-Hamid, an antiquities expert, and Mohamed Ali, head of general management and security.