The Incredible Story of Museum of Islamic Art in Egypt

With more than 100,000 antiquities from India, China, Iran, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Andalusia, the Museum of Islamic Art in Egypt is the largest institution of its kind in world.


The museum, located in the Bab Al-Khalk area in the heart of Cairo, is also the largest educational institute in the world in the fields of Islamic archaeology and Islamic art. It is renowned for its diverse collection, which includes works in metals, wood and textiles, among other mediums.


The idea of a museum in Egypt dedicated to Islamic art and archaeology began during the rule of Ismail Pasha (the grandson of Mohammed Ali Pasha), who was khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879.

In 1869, court architect Julius Franz Pasha installed a collection of Islamic archaeological artifacts in the courtyard of the then-abandoned Al-Hakem Mosque.


The collection grew when the Committee for the Preservation of Arab Antiquities was established in 1881 and was adopted by the Governor’s Mosque. Space was limited however, and a decision was made to construct the current purpose-built museum building in Bab Al-Khalq, which was initially named the House of Arab Antiquities. The foundation stone was laid in 1899, construction was completed in 1902 and the museum opened on Dec. 28, 1903. The number of items in the collection had grown by them from about 111 in 1882 to about 3,000.


The name was changed to the Museum of Islamic Art in 1952 at the start of the July 23 Revolution. The artifacts were displayed in 25 halls, divided up according to their age and materials. On Aug. 14, 2010, former President Hosni Mubarak officially reopened the museum following an eight-year project to develop and renovate it. The work was supported by the Aga Khan Foundation and carried out with the assistance of specialists from France.

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Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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