No Egypt tour is complete without a visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. With over 120,000 artefacts, the museum houses an unbelievable exhibit depicting ancient Egypt's glorious reign. Mummies, sarcophagi, pottery, jewellery and of course King Tutankhamen's treasures, it's all there. The boy-king's death-mask - discovered in its tomb - is made of solid gold and it has been described as the most beautiful object ever made. Opening hours: 09:00- 19:00 Fri 09:00- 11:00; 1:30- 19:00
One of the world’s most important collections of ancient artefacts, the Egyptian Museum takes pride of place in Downtown Cairo, on the north side of Midan Tahrir. Inside the great domed, oddly pinkish building, the glittering treasures of Tutankhamun and other great pharaohs lie alongside the grave goods, mummies, jewellery, eating bowls and toys of Egyptians whose names are lost to history.
The Egyptian Museum was founded in 1858 at Būlāq, moved to Al-Jīzah (Giza), and moved to its present site in 1897–1902. It is unique in its presentation of the whole history of Egyptian civilization, especially of antiquities of the Pharaonic and Greco-Roman periods. The more than 100,000 items in the museum include some 1,700 items from the tomb of Tutankhamen, including the solid-gold mask that covered the pharaoh’s head. Other treasures include reliefs, sarcophagi, papyri, funerary art and the contents of various tombs (including that of Queen Hetepheres), jewelry, ornaments of all kinds, and other objects. There is a block statue of Queen Hetepheres, one of the earliest examples of its type, and there is also a black granite sculpture of Queen Nefertiti. A sculpture of Amenhotep II shows him as the god Tenen. There are also granite figures of Queen Hatshepsut, as well as colossal figures of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) from Karnak. The museum also houses a small but fine collection of Fayum portraits from Hellenistic and Roman times.
The current museum has its origins in several earlier efforts at managing Egypt’s ancient heritage, beginning in 1835 when Egyptian ruler Mohammed Ali banned the export of antiquities. French architect Mariette’s growing collection, from 35 dig sites, bounced around various homes in Cairo until 1902, when the current building was erected, in a suitably prominent position in the city. There it has stood, in its original layout, a gem of early museum design.
Until 1996, museum security involved locking the door at night. When an enterprising thief stowed away overnight and helped himself to treasures, the museum authorities installed alarms and detectors, at the same time improving the lighting on many exhibits. During the 2011 revolution, the museum was broken into and a few artefacts went missing. To prevent further looting, activists formed a human chain around the building to guard its contents. By most reports, they were successful.Most objects are still on display, although some are being moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum. While some rooms are being refurbished, the objects are deposited elsewhere in the museum. This museum will remain a major sight, but it is not yet clear when the Grand will open and what will remain here.