El museo celebra su centenario, con siete años de retraso, debido a una larga remodelación que lo ha mantenido cerrado durante años y que por fin culminará con su reapertura este martes al público
'No pudimos celebrar el centenario del museo mientras estaba en obras, pero hoy ya estamos preparados para festejarlo', dijo hoy el secretario general del Consejo Supremo de Antigüedades egipcias (CSA), Zahi Hawas, en un breve encuentro con la prensa. Inaugurado en 1903, este importante museo fue cerrado un año antes de cumplir su centenario, con el objetivo de reconstruir y modernizar sus deficientes instalaciones.
El centro cuenta con una colección de 2.500 piezas de arte islámico de los mamelucos (1250-1517 d.C.) y los otomanos (1517-1805 d.C.), así como de las dinastías fatimí (969-1171) y ayubí (1171-1250 d.C.), entre otras.
La muestra incluye objetos de cerámica, murales, textiles, monedas, relojes de arena, globos terráqueos, fuentes y muros con grabados geométricos, ventanas de madera tallada, tumbas de mármol y varios de los coranes más antiguos que se conocen hasta ahora.
Sin embargo, el público no ha podido disfrutar del museo durante largo tiempo, ya que en los últimos tres años se anunció su reapertura tras la remodelación en varias ocasiones, pero siempre se volvía a retrasar, e incluso, después de su presentación ante los medios de comunicación en agosto pasado, se pospuso de nuevo.
Uno de los últimos imprevistos que aplazaron la inauguración fue el robo del cuadro 'Las amapolas', de Vincent Van Gogh, del Museo de Arte Moderno Mahmud Khalil de El Cairo, ocurrido el pasado 21 de agosto, que llevó a las autoridades egipcias a cerrar varios centros para mejorar los sistemas de vigilancia.
Al respecto, Zahi Hawas aseguró que 'todos los museos cuentan con medidas de seguridad de alta tecnología', incluido el Museo de Arte Islámico, cuya modernización requirió el esfuerzo de muchos ingenieros y arqueólogos.
Se espera que el presidente egipcio, Hosni Mubarak, inaugure por segunda vez (la primera fue en agosto) el museo esta noche para que a partir de mañana empiece a recibir a egipcios y turistas interesados en el arte y la cultura del islam.
Museum of Islamic Art Centennial
By Dr. Hawass
On Monday the Museum of Islamic Art celebrated two major milestones: the centennial of the museum's existence and the grand reopening of the museum after an eight year refurbishment project. The day was a whirlwind of activity but I am so proud of this incredible achievement. It was a wonderful day, complete with a tour of the museum in the morning to invited dignitaries and press. The First Lady of Egypt, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak was also able to receive a private tour of the collection and was overjoyed at the beauty of the displays. In the evening, over 600 guests attended a beautiful dinner in the garden of Manial Palace in Cairo.
It was a wonderful event and I hope that everyone who visits Egypt will take the opportunity to tour this museum and view our magnificent Islamic art collection. I am including here my speech from the celebration dinner and would like to extend my deepest thanks to everyone involved in refurbishing the museum.
"Minister of Culture, Mr. Farouk Hosny; Your exellencies; my dear colleagues and honored guests:
Tonight we are celebrating a monument of incredible cultural and historical significance. This monument, the Museum of Islamic Art, has stood as one of the greatest accomplishments of Islamic culture for a century.
In 1979, I visited the Museum of Islamic Art and was sickened by the state of disrepair that the building had fallen into. Although by name it was called a “museum” it was not worthy of this title. There were thousands of objects crammed into very small halls that denied the visitor the beauty of Islamic art, and kept the magnificence of these objects shrouded in darkness. The heavy-hearted feeling that I walked away with that day stayed with me until 2003 when I decided that the museum should be completely refurbished.
This project proved to be a great challenge for myself and Mr. Farouk Hosny, the Minister of Culture, because the building of the museum itself was very old and its location under the Dar el-Kotob building made the museum structurally unsound. When we started the project we had countless problems. As soon as one issue was resolved, another one appeared. I insisted that the project would be completed and I visited the site every week. I firmly believed that the Egyptians would rise to the challenge and after 8 years of hard work this project has finally been completed. In my wildest dreams I never imagined that the museum would be this beautiful. To be honest I think that the reconstruction of the Museum of Islamic Art was my most demanding project over the last 8 years.
Tonight I am proud to announce that Egypt has one of the most beautiful museums of Islamic art in the world and all Egyptians should take great pride in this achievement. This museum stands in the heart of Cairo, and we all know that Cairo is the center of the Islamic and Arabic civilizations.
I don’t want to repeat what most of us already know. I won’t list for you how many artifacts the Museum of Islamic Art contains, how many halls, what periods the objects date to or the age of the pieces themselves. I don’t want my brief speech to turn into a lecture. Most of you know this information and if not it is easy to find. Instead I would like to mention the people that had such an important role in this museum’s success.
Dear guests, we should all be proud of the new beginning of this museum. This moment would not be possible without the countless hours of work put in by dedicated professionals from various fields. The crowning achievement of all this hard work was the visit of President Mubarak when he inaugurated the Museum of Islamic Art in August. Only a few minutes ago, our happiness was completed when Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady, visited the museum and expressed her joy over the display of the objects. This evening we should all be grateful for those who have supported this huge project. On behalf of all of us I would like to thank Prince Karim Aga Khan and his Trust for Culture, and the studio of Adrien Gardere, French consultant for the reconstruction project. I would like to extend my thanks to the Louvre Museum in Paris for their assistance in creating the Museum of Islamic Art scenario, along with Egyptian curators and Dr. Mahmoud Mabruk who completed the organization of the displays. I would also like to thank the archaeologists, curators and the staff of the National Defense Council for their great efforts, along with the architect Said el-Komi.
Honored guests on this evening please allow me acknowledge the Minister of Culture, Mr. Farouk Hosny, for his dedication to this project. He visited the site several times over the course of the reconstruction and was involved in many details of the museum design, including the color of the gallery walls. His artistic touch can truly be seen all over the museum. All of these people working together have helped to create a world-class museum that has garnered international recognition."
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