Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The way to Grand Egyptian Museum - Box of Magic

The GEM "Grand Egyptian Museum" is a museum complex and a cultural destination that needs to be explored on repeated visits. It is the largest archeological warehouse celebrating the heritage of Ancient Egypt. GEM is the Encyclopedia of Egyptian Pharaonic Culture exhibiting high quality artifacts of finest collections carrying the latest scientific information on these works of art, and presenting them in ways which engage, excite and motivate visitors to return and tell that this is a "not to be missed experience". 

The Permanent Galleries are laid out in a largely chronological sequence and illustrated by interweaving stories. A great deal of attention has been given to developing the visitors paths of varying lengths to cater for tour groups, families and independent travelers while providing for the more detailed interests of students and scholars. Each visitor route is designed to be a complete story focusing on particular themes and topics.

A broad and diverse range of media, techniques and approaches to enhance the objects are used and the purpose is to communicate information about them, to make the museum visit a pleasurable and inspiring experience. The pacing of the visitor experience in this will include the planned use of iconic artifacts in singular cases, the use of massed artifacts in giant cases, open displays , as well as large screen digital experiences, and small study alcoves with database and information hubs. Large-scale reconstructions of buildings on the gallery floor will be counter pointed against impressive models at 1:20 scale. 

In the case of Tutankhamen’s Tomb at 1:2, half life size, to illustrate the context of the artifacts. Like a good film or great book, the emotions of the visitor going through the museum experiences will have peaks and troughs, be awe-inspiring and provide pathos, self-discovery and intellectual challenges. Telling the complete story of Ancient Egypt is the museum's aspiration and sharing it with the visitors of the word is the ultimate goal.

Background of the GEM– Meeting the Goals

The goals set out in the Competition Brief were clear. Egypt will create a new museum to tell the world the chronological story of Ancient Egypt on the land were it all happened. This museum is to be an architectural icon; it is to be large enough to house the archaeological treasures of the nation and to present them to citizens and guests in a manner consistent with international best practice and to the highest level of visitor expectations.

It is also clearly intended that the Museum should generate significant surplus revenue so as to support smaller museums with more limited access to the international tourism market and the revenue that derives from it.

The architectural and exhibit design teams working in the Project have strived to deliver success measured against these parameters. The building and landscape designed by the architectural team led by Heneghan Peng Architects are worthy of the tremendous treasures of human culture with which Egypt is blessed. The Grand Egyptian Museum will be truly internationally first ranked as an iconic architectural structure and as a museum with unique collections, the finest conservation facilities in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, and staffed by highly trained professionals. 

Cultural Innovations / Metaphor’sExhibit Design role in master planning and designing the galleries and exhibits for the GEM is to use this opportunity to bring forth the finest collections, the finest individual artifacts and the latest scientific information on these artifacts; and present them in ways which engage, excite and motivate visitors to return and to tell their friends that this is a “unique experience that has to be lived to the maximum”. Both the architectural and exhibit design teams working under the leadership of the GEM Project office, headed by the Technical Committee Coordinator who represents the welfare of the Client (Egyptian Ministry of Culture), all striving to deliver success of this cultural edifice.

The core of any museum exhibition is the quality, number, and diversity of its collections. Given the right balance of these variables, the exhibition design is then using these cultural assets to illustrate, bring to life and communicate the stories they tell. In the GEM, the artifacts are given primacy in display because they are the unique value proposition that the museum have over television, the Internet or any other means of communication. The long-term success of the GEM depends on the presence of visually powerful and historically significant artifacts and displays of such scale, density and beauty that they excite all those who visit Egypt to see these treasures of global human history.

The attendance goal for the museum is 3 million visitors a year at opening and growing. To achieve this target the museum is hosting artifacts of high quality, rising to 100,000 over the first five to ten years of operations.

To date the Supreme Council of Antiquities has granted to the GEM the largest component of the Tutankhamen collection. This internationally iconic collection will be the cornerstone collection for the GEM. But success does not depend on only one highlight. Egypt targets to use the opportunity that the GEM provides to demonstrate the unique and beautiful qualities of all of Pharaonic history with significant displays from every period, important sites and collections. Provided it exhibits high quality artifacts, the GEM will inspire visitors to see many other museums and heritage sites in Egypt . 

The Museum will also play a role in protecting Ancient Egypt’s cultural heritage by providing conservation treatment and controlled environments to previously untreated artifacts.

Overview of the Museum

The Grand Egyptian Museum is currently one of the largest museum development projects in the world. Given the global interest in Pharaonic history, people everywhere are eagerly anticipating the arrival of this new cultural destination. Given also the importance of cultural tourism to the Egyptian economy, the GEM is a priority to Egypt and its people on different levels, human, governmental, financial, and public sector support that will make it a popular, academic and cultural institution of the highest international standing's, housing one of the most ancient treasures of humanity that belongs to the world heritage.

The museum is located over 117faddans approx. 480,000sq m, 2.5 km away from the legendary Pyramids of Giza, the plateau that is nominated in the UNESCO list of Cultural Heritage Sites. It acts at the intersection between Modernity and Antiquity, literally redirecting the traveler from the modernity of Cairo and Alexandria to the Ancient Heritage of the Egyptians which goes back to over 5000 years of civilization.

The Collection and Exhibition

The GEM's 84000 sq m building is constructed as a complex of different activities that embraces 100,000 pieces of artifacts acting as an archeological park of Ancient Egyptian history which also contributes to a cultural environment that is centered about Egyptology by weaving different navigation routs through the complex; the world of ancient Egypt can be explored in different modes and levels. The museum is a repository of cultural artifacts and an interactive cultural resource.

The visitors will be drawn into the story of Ancient Egypt from the moment they enter. In the Atrium, the visitor will be awed by the monumental Statue of Ramses II and then turn to see before them the Grand Staircase displaying majestic statues of Egypt ’s Pharaohs.

The visitors looking up this staircase gallery will begin to appreciate the incredible long period of Pharaonic history, the power of the ancient rulers and the overall scale of the building. With no great panels of text, the implicit power of Egypt will permeate these magnificent spaces populated by these magnificent artifacts. Arriving at the Permanent Galleries on the third floor by revelators, the visitors will see through the south walls to the Pyramids and know that they have arrived .

The Gallery of Tutankhamen will be the highlight of the visit for most tourists and this is reflected in the exhibition masterplan. The Tutankhamen Gallery will be a ‘museum within a museum’, a unique space approached across a dedicated suspended bridge into the darkened tomb of Tutankhamen. The dramatic lighting will accent the golden treasures of the tomb, which will be augmented by layers of information using a variety of media. The entire visitor experience reaches a crescendo in this gallery after several more modest peaks and will reduce in such a way that the visitor leaves wanting to repeat the visit.

This exquisite Gallery displays 3500 pieces of the Young King Tut as his belongings, a collection that is most complete of all collections surviving robbery and tomb burglars along the long years.

Seating spaces and rest areas are designed into the layouts of all the galleries both for physical comfort of the visitors and for reasons of pacing. Spaces for relaxation focus on objects or groups of objects to allow visitors areas for contemplation of key parts of the collections.

The museum is compromising five thematic areas chronologically displayed: The Land of Egypt , Kingship and State, Man Society and Work, Religion and Culture , Scribes and Knowledge . The display concept for the 100 000 pieces of artifacts intends to illustrate the historical, cultural and territorial evolution of Ancient Egypt, as documented by the archaeological discoveries and the historical and epigraphical sources.

Investment opportunities


This unique complex is driven from a special Vision that looks at this Museum to be more than a museum; it is an international center of Egyptology with conservation resources, educational and research facilities, conference, seminar and entertainment facilities all immediately adjacent to the World’s greatest collection of Egyptian Artifacts and within easy access of the monuments created by that civilization. It is also more than a research centre, it is a public cultural facility with parks and gardens that tell the story of Egypt through another medium, that of the Land of the Nile. The Architecture of the Grand Museum creates a single grand identity united by geometry for these multiple activities.


The winning design established a strong visual relationship to the Pyramids, in effect creating a single site for the Museum and Pyramids. Building upon this, the Design considers the area surrounding the Pyramids and the Museum as a single entity, a National Archaeological Park for Egypt, a new world heritage site with an Esplanade that extends, from the Museum to the Pyramids plateau. In addition the traffic strategy minimizes traffic in front of the Museum and eventually looks to removing all traffic from the Pyramids area by the use of a shuttle to connect the Pyramids and the Museum to car parking.

According to this Vision the museum has a great prospective for huge business opportunities that are likely to develop through the following projects:

1- Recreational Park

The Recreational Park is located over approx. 53,000 sq m of land, in the front yard of the museum, adjacent to the main Entrance Piazza. The Park has access to the Cairo – Alexandria desert road. It is also linked to the main Esplanade that connects the museum site to the Pyramids Plateau. The Park is designed to accommodate leisure, commercial as well as recreational activities and services.

2- Chez Pyramids Restaurant

The Pyramid Restaurant occupies the space under the radial strip flanking the temple garden. It is the first of a series of buildings under this gravel covered strip. It was envisioned that due its spectacular view and proximity to the museum it would be the ideal location for a high class restaurant. The Restaurant would operate as a separate entity outside museum hours and the museum boundary and served by its own road and entrance. Within the Radial strip both internal and external dining is proposed each table with a unique view to the pyramids and at a lower level to the front of the restaurants there would be landscaped gardens and terraces.

Chez Pyramids Restaurant is located over approx. 1,600 sq m a 5plus star restaurant with a majestic panoramic view overlooking the three Pyramids from one side, and the city of Cairo skyline, and the new museum building from the opposite side. The restaurant is located on the top of the museum site about 40m.above road level, allowing unobstructed panoramic view.

3- Commercial Zone

Fully integrated with the whole museum building, this zone has an area dedicated for its various activities that mounts to 7000sqm.

a- Retail Shops

Serving about 3million visitors per year and located over 4,400 sqm.

b- Cafes, Restaurants, Food Courts, and Bank Facilities

Providing visitors with food and beverage during their journey inside the museum and adding special flavors to the traveler's experience.

4- Multi Purpose Auditorium

Designed to accommodate conferences, events, theater shows, musical concerts and festivals. The auditorium is equipped with adequate banquet hall, meeting rooms, catering facilities. The main auditorium is built over 1,200sqm and accommodates between 800 to 1000 persons per event.

5- 3D Theater/ Cinema

The area fits 250 persons per show along with film production and is located over 500 sqm.

6- The Lands of Egypt Park

The ‘Lands of Egypt ’ Park is a thematic park intended to reflect and supplement the themes of the Grand Egyptian Museum. The park is conceived as a ‘secret’ garden, ‘discovered’ after the long climb from the Piazza. The Lands of Egypt Park is sunken and enclosed by monumental retaining walls, thus enhancing its dramatic perception. The park is grounded in research into perceptions and uses of the Ancient Egyptian agricultural landscape. 

The field crops library and research into Ancient Egyptian agriculture demonstrates the depth of references that will inform the Lands of Egypt Park. Appropriate vegetation will be presented based on the patterns of lush vegetation which line the banks of the Nile ; the Lands of Egypt Park provides an opportunity for cultivated areas. These areas will display the botanical species of Ancient Egypt demonstrating the processes and cycles of cultivation and its important relationship with the Nile River . 

The specific location of the Lands of Egypt Park on the Desert Plateau provides surprise of discovery as it is concealed from view at the entry. The 27,000sqm Park will provide for an attractive introvert space. For the agricultural experience, two conceptual layers of perception are applied to the Lands of Egypt Park. The first shows the seasonal change that was crucial for Ancient Egyptian prosperity: the balance between the seasons of inundation vs. the growing season. Potentially, a large triangular area in the garden will actually flood at set intervals during museum opening hours. 

Visitors can then walk on paths through the water; children can play in the water. The second concept is subdivision into twelve gardens, each representing a month of the year. The highest level of the garden is the ‘Cafe Dune’ location, providing a majestic view over the Lands of Egypt Park and the Museum building towards Cairo . The park will be open 24hours a day and it is a major touristic attraction.

7- Other Business Opportunities
  • Art and crafts center, educational center, children museum, nursery, and parking lot (area allocated for parking is about 20,000 sqm.).
  • More details for those activities will be discussed further in its due course of time.

The budget for constructing and operating the GEM is estimated to cost $550 million (USD). The major sources for securing the proper funding for this MEGA Project will be provided mainly by the Egyptian Government financial alloca­tions for the Project within the framework of the current Five-Year Investment Plan, Fund Raising Champaign, Grants given to Egypt by foreign countries within in the framework of Developmental Cooperation Agreements and Protocols, Financial Contributions and Technical Assistance provided by certain International Organizations and Financial Agencies, as well as individual and group Donations and Subscriptions, all to share in covering the costs for implementing the Project.

In this context, negotiations are currently undergoing with the Japanese government represented by the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to study a long term loan for the GEM project.


On inauguration date the GEM will have about 500 well trained staff receiving the visitors, in addition to 1500 employees outsourced in the Service Sector (security, cleaning, maintenance, etc.).

This complex acts as a cultural attraction capable impacting the economy of Egypt by creating new permanent job opportunities as well as other chances in various fields for example an expected 5500 jobs in the economic sectors through the multiplier effect, especially in the fields of construction, transport, insurance, services, manufacturing, etc.

Major Numbers and Dates

 The Grand Egyptian Museum in Numbers

  • 100,000 Artifacts to be displayed .
  • 3,500 Pieces of king TUT treasures .
  • 117 Faddans site area or 480,000 sqm .
  • 2.5 Km The distance between the museum and the Pyramids .
  • 14,000 sqm Conservation center .
  • 24,000 sqm Main exhibition gallery upper floor .
  • 45 sqm Height of museum main facade .
  • 600 sqm Length of the translucent stone wall .
  • 550 million USD Total cost for museum implementation .
  • 6 Different Gardens and parks representing the Land of Egypt .
  • 5 Caf├ęs and restaurants on museum site .
  • 24hour Gardens for the visitors of the Land of Egypt .
  • 2 km Esplanade connecting the site to the Pyramids .
  • 100 million USD Self finance from MOC .
  • 300 million USD Funding from Japanese Loans and Grants .
  • 150 million USD Funding from an international fund raising campaigns .
  • 380 Employees permanent staff in the museum at opening date .
  • 1,500 Employees outsourced to work in the museum after opening .
  • 5,500 Job opportunity as a result from museum impact on the economic sector of the country .
  • 3 million Visitors expected to visit the museum annually .
  • 15,000 Visitors per day after opening .
  • 14 International consultancy firms preparing drawings and detailed designs .
  • 120 Engineers and experts to implement the project .
  • 1557 Different designs from 83 country participated in the international architectural competition .
  • 300 million USD Cost of constructing the museum and main building .
  • 32 million USD Cost of constructing the CEC .
  • 75 million USD Cost of preparing main exhibition galleries .
  • 30 million USD Cost of preparing & transferring artifacts .
  • 28 million USD Operational expanses .
  • 35 million USD Consultancy and studies fees .


Important Dates in the Life of the GEM

  • November 3 rd 1992 , Presidential Decree # 402 allocating a suitable area of land for building the Grand Egyptian Museum
  • December 1 st 2001 , Forming the Technical Committee for the project
  • January 7th 2002 , The International Press Conference for the Minister of Culture to announce the International Competition
  • February 4th 2002 , President Housni Mubarak laid the foundation stone in the project site
  • October 13th 2002 , President of the World Band and his wife visit the project on the premises of the Technical Committee
  • October 17th 2002 , The first phase of the competition concluded supervised by international jury members under the patronage of UNESCO
  • April 16th 2003 , First Lady Mrs. Suzan Mubarak visits the project on the premises of the Technical Committee
  • April 27th 2003 , The second phase of the competition concluded supervised by international jury members under the patronage of UNESCO
  • June 7th 2003 , The Press Conference held by the Minister of Culture to the announce results of the competition at the Cairo Opera House
  • June 8th 2003 , Ceremony of distributing the prizes by the First Lady Mrs. Suzan Mubarak
  • August 18th 2003 , Negotiations with the Design Team that won the Competition
  • September 26th 2003 , Presenting the project in Copenhagen – Denmark
  • October 27th 2003 , Contracting the winning Design Team for the Pre-Schematic Design Phase
  • November 28th 2003 , Starting the Italian Grant Program for building capacities in the project
  • June 1st 2004 , Concluding the Pre-Schematic Design Phase
  • August 15th 2004 , Contracting the international Design Team (JV) for the Schematic Design Phase
  • August 1st 2004 , Contracting museuology and exhibition designers for setting up the exhibition galleries
  • October 14th 2004 , Official request from the Egyptian government to the Japanese government for funding the project through a Loan and Grant.
  • March 23rd 2005 , Press Conference held by the Minister of Culture and Minister of Tourism at the office of the Minister of Culture
  • May 8th 2005 , Starting the Environmental Impact Assessment study
  • May 9th 2005 , Starting site enabling work with a total cost of 5 million Egyptian pound
  • May 16th 2005 , UNESCO representatives visit the project and meet with the international Design Team
  • June 18th 2005 , Fact Finding Mission dispatched by JBIC regarding the Loan
  • June 22nd 2005 , International Press Conference held by the Minister of Culture to announce the construction phase for the project on the premises of the Technical Committee
  • June 30th 2005 , Concluding the Schematic Design Phase and Detailed Design for the Conservation Center , the archeological storages, and the Energy Center
  • August 15 th 2005 , Environmental Impact Assessment Public Hearing in Movenpick Hotel
  • August 17 th 2005 , Design Team deliver final SD Report to Minister of Culture in his office.