Egypt welcomes archeological conservation, exhibition with China
From：Xinhua Net Writer：Mahmoud Fouly Date：2017-02-17
Excavation works and artifact discoveries have recently flourished in Egypt and China, Tarek Tawfik, general director and head supervisor of the still under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The discoveries forecast improved cooperation between both countries in the fields of archeological conservation and exhibition, added Tawfik.
"In light of growing distinguished relations between Egypt and China, the GEM will be happy to receive Chinese visitors after its soft opening in early 2018," said Tawfik.
"We also welcome future cooperation with China in this field and we are considering holding various joint artifact exhibitions between the two countries in the near future," he added.
Located some two kilometers north of the Great Pyramid of Giza, on an area of 491,000 square meters, the GEM project was started in 2010 and the museum is expected to be the top museum in the Middle East and the largest in the world in terms of artifacts displayed by "one civilization" - the ancient Egyptian one.
"Other international large museums, like France's Louvre Museum, the British Museum and America's Metropolitan Museum, are larger in area and numbers of featured artifacts but they display a wide range from several civilizations," the museum chief told Xinhua.
Tawfik hailed potential future cooperation with China in relevant fields, stressing that "Both Egyptian and Chinese ancient civilizations started along the banks of great rivers and have many aspects in common."
The idea to establish the GEM was initiated in 2001 due to the inadequate capacity of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo with its packed artifacts, in addition to continuous artifact discoveries nationwide.
Egyptians are currently racing against time for the project's soft opening anticipated in early 2018 and to meet the grand opening schedule before the end of 2022.
The GEM's capacity can accommodate 100,000 artifacts, 50,000 in constant display and another 50,000 in modern storehouses which can be easily accessed for archeological studies and researches.
Among the 50,000 pieces in future display, 30,000 have never been previously exhibited.
"The stored artifacts will also be periodically used in various exhibitions at the GEM to enliven the museum display, and render it increasingly attractive," said the GEM director.
The "GEM star" is slated to be the ancient Egyptian young King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was discovered in 1922 in western Luxor by British archeologists Howard Carter and George Herbert.
"Only one-third of the tomb's content was showcased at the museum in Tahrir, but the complete set of King Tut's discovered artifacts, over 5,000 pieces, will be displayed for the first time at the GEM soft opening," Tawfik said, noting that they will feature new and interesting perspectives of the king's life including historical, political and social background as well as the fashion of the time.
As for the GEM structure, only a third of the total area of almost half a million square meters will become premises, while the museum display area will be about 45,000 square meters.
The soft opening in early 2018 will be on a 15,000-square-meter area, "which is still larger than the current display area in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir."
The soft opening will start with the "grand staircase" which will transport visitors from the GEM's entrance to the display halls.
Featured in the forefront are some 100 huge artifacts, such as standing statues of pharaohs similar to that of King Ramses II and huge segments of ancient temples.
Also included is a display of King Tut's complete artifacts set.
When work on the GEM project started in 2010, the Conservation Center was established first to receive artifacts from all over the country for restoration, maintenance and display.
"Since the center opened, it received about 40,000 artifacts, 75 percent of which (about 30,000 pieces) have been restored and are ready for display once the showrooms are ready, including over 2,500 artifacts of King Tut's belongings," the GEM project top official told Xinhua.