The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, the world's largest Islamic fine arts exhibition, opened Saturday for previews after an eight-year restoration costing about $10 million US.
The museum, with 2,500 artifacts on view, was officially reopened at a ceremony presided over by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. This opening corresponds with the Moslem holy month of Ramadan.
When visiting this amazing structure, the ARTKABINETT social network for fine fine art collectors will enjoy viewing the rare and ornate calligraphic works which will be in abundant display.
Media and dignitaries were allowed in for a preview, but the public will have to wait until September to experience the museum's 25 galleries. The museum in central Cairo was built in 1903 to protect the country's valuable objects from looters.
The Museum of Islamic Art is considered one of the greatest in the world with its exceptional collection of rare woodwork and plaster, as well as metal, ceramic, glass, crystal, and textile objects of all periods, from all over the Islamic world.
It houses more than 102,000 objects. The Museum carries out archaeological excavations in the Fustat Area and has organized a number of National and International Exhibitions.
Among the treasures on display are a gold-inlaid key to the Kaaba, the building that houses the sacred black stone in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.
There are rare manuscripts of the Qur'an, ceramics from the Ottoman era as well as ancient instruments used in architecture, astronomy and chemistry.
I.M.Pei, the trailblazer responsible for the Louvre's famed glass pyramid, has now put his stamp on a 376,740-square-foot behemoth in the heart of the Middle East, which appears to rise from Doha Bay in the Persian Gulf. Housed under a soaring, five-story-high domed atrium, the museum's collections span three continents, from the 7th to the 19th century.
Tourists flock by the millions to the Pyramids at Giza and the Temples of Luxor dating back more than 3000 years but the wealth of art and design heralded by the arrival of Islam to Egypt in the 7th century tends to take second place.
Before it closed in 2003, only a few thousand curious travellers were venturing each month into the museum, set by a noisy road in the heart of Egypt's frenetic capital.
The former building designed by Italian Alfonso Manescalo dated from the early 20th century and was jammed with some 3000 treasures, many poorly labeled, including ceramics, tombs, doors, wooden screens, robes and rugs.
The re-opening of the museum on Saturday came on the first week of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.