Grandiose Egyptian Museum

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Grandiose Egyptian Museum

Post by Hafiz »

GEM The Supreme Antiques Fully Exposed.

GEM and related matters have been the biggest issue for the 77,000 Supreme Antiques in the past 18 years.

GEM was meant to be finished 7 years ago but building stopped for the usual reason. They had run out of money – western money, and they went back to the compliant Japs for another $US300 million or so. At this stage its 8 years over target and between 200 and 300% over budget. A perfect Egypt project – all overseas money, a half mad project design by an architecture firm no one has ever heard of, located in a place that seems designed to achieve two objectives – maximum inconvenience to tourists and second in the middle of an unbelievably ugly nowhere.

They have built 40 or so museums in the last 15 years, all are ugly, badly built, have appalling displays and attract few people. To assume that GEM will be any different would require you to believe (broad definition) that the Supreme Antiques have changed/improved in a fundamental way. They haven’t.

There are so many horrific issues with GEM that a lifetime is inadequate to describe them. I will deal with only two issues – key issues. One, who is running this fiasco and are they any good. Related to this is who is running the Egyptian Civilization Museum (also paid for by mad western do-gooders – the UN) in Fustat. Second, and its not the main game but a game Egypt is hopeless at, what is being done with restoration/conservation of objects and sites.

I will resist the temptation to describe the many Alice in Wonderland examples of the GEM fiasco and the beyond belief building skills, or lack of them, of Orascom and Arab (perverse)Contractors - military division Panama section..

Some see my comments as easy/unfair criticism of well intentioned people who face difficult jobs in difficult circumstances. If that were true I would be a huge supporter of their efforts. Rather the truth of most situations is of confused/lazy/stupid objectives, lazy and arrogant managers and the waste of human time and money that would get you fired after day 3 in the west.

Before I get to the issues I’ve identified a few images which describe the Hawass/Egypt/Junta dogma which applies to museums and all other aspects of the totally controlled Egyptian life – big is beautiful even if beautiful isn’t big. Also stupid leaders are a national asset.


A sketch from the Irish architects which appealed to the Grand Supreme Antiques in the alleged competition - no rules listed and no eligibility requirements known – a design in inverse proportion to actual achievement/effort/hard work of the Supreme Antiques or any other Egyptian.


Its pure Albert Speer – Hitler’s architect who planned buildings to overwhelm and intimidate people to elevate that moral and intellectual midget Hitler. He also ‘designed’ the Nuremberg Rallies and other infantile rot that made ‘real men’ feel better than their mother's said they were ... re-of-evil

The rot put about on the GEM is standard Egypt. Build something and people will come. Sounds plausible if you are a low rent tourist/lover of Egypt but when did Rome, Athens, Florence, Venice, New York, Berlin or London do such stuff. Here is the latest version of this Egypt rot produced by some dull Egyptian bureaucrat that would get no job elsewhere.

“A 30% expected increase in tourism after the opening of GEM with a demand for almost 40 hotels generating 60,000 job opportunities in tourism.” It’s the mad logic we’ve heard before. Build an Opera House in Luxor and Opera Tourists will come, build hotels and tourists will come. They must be on heroin – or steroids.

Down to the job in hand. First, who has been given the immense job of making work a museum for tourists in the middle of no where. Note its location ensures that average Egyptians will have difficulty and expense in getting there (there is no public transport) - not that the Supreme Antiques could give a jot about their own people.

First what are we talking about. Its clear.

“the Grand Egyptian Museum is the most important cultural project in the world.” ... php?a=2426 Hawass said this. Is it a cultural project or is it just a building and does he, with an IQ barely above average according to the University of Pennsylvania know the difference. He doesn’t. Its just a storage/display shed you fool, the culture is in its 5,000 year old objects and they can be shown almost anywhere – if you can find some good curators/display staff. The skill, one he never had, is to display the objects so that people don’t behave like supermarket shoppers moving from aisle to aisle.

As ever he’s a pompous git that no one in his profession will touch with a barge pole but millions of net veggies love.

So what highly skilled human bEing is going to run this las Vegas extravaganza?

Tawfik, the new head of this new GEM Giza monstrosity (which debt soaked Egypt can’t afford) has a third rate Egyptian education which has not prevented he being appointed an associate Professor of Egyptology (not a full professor) at Cairo University (which has very low standards in this area). He has few/no publications (he may have co-authored/just edited one book which documented recent finds in Egypt along with many others and given a brief paper at a Prague conference).

He has no experience of managing anything more complex than licking a stamp.

Cairo University gave him an award in 2010 for a book he contributed little to and was written in German. Very odd and a bit sad/pathetic. The Cairo university documentation justifying the award is illiterate and pompous.) He has no management experience to prepare him to manage 2,000 staff. He has no experience of managing a museum. My point is that even his academic qualifications are thin/barely existent and even good academics rarely make good museum directors. His management experience is zero and that is the killer. He will manage the largest museum (in meterage) in the world as his first management job starting from a very low base.

The future is clear. Most places in the world place these jobs on the international market and hire a head hunting firm to get the best person in the world. Not in Egypt – hardly any, and maybe none, are placed on the market – they prefer to select in private according to loyalty. Egypt never, since 1952, appoints outsiders and yet they call us racist.

With his job there is no published list of his 5/6 priorities, nor his targets. Everyone else in the world does this together with publication of his taxpayer funded salary package. At least he is neither old nor obese – maybe he is because there is no photo of him, its like Stalin’s Russia in its secrecy and incest.

It could be worse – Hawass could be back – although there is evidence that he is still around pulling the strings and he now has the time because no one in the West wants him – except for shopping mall promotions in South Africa or paid guest lectureships in Arizonan educational facilities no one has ever heard of. He was in Italy recently officially representing the people of Egypt at a touring exhibition of Egypt objects in a place no one goes to but the launch was not mentioned in a single Italian newspaper but it was in all the Egyptian troughs. He gave his usual rant/hate speech but failed to issue his standard poisonous comments about Jews/Israel or gay people.

Doesn’t the Government of Egypt notice that when Hawass appears in the west no person of respectable background will attend?

If you think the GEM appointment underwhelming look at this one of about 2 years ago – no advertisement, no job description, no international advertisement etc.

The Director of the Egyptian Civilization Museum in Fustat, Saeed, is ‘fully’ qualified but in a way that escapes me. He is an engineer, a ‘graduate’ of no more than a sad Cairo university, no museum qualifications, no history qualifications and little/no management experience.

Whilst ‘managing’ Fustat he appears to have also ‘managed’ the Nubia fund for UNESCO and Egypt. How he can do both or is qualified to do so is hard to understand – you would need to ask UNESCO and they thought Farag good. Whether he is military is impossible to determine because as usual for Egyptian public officials they issue no CV (many of them lie including one current female minister and the President’s press secretary/spokesman, at least one al Ahram features/opinion writer and the horrible UNESCO applicant). As is common the announcement of his appointment gave no reasons/previous achievements /education/objectives/salary/performance indicators – wonder why? The future is clear.

You get a picture of the chaos/mismanagement at the top of the Civilization Museum when UNESCO minutes of a late 2017 meeting state that the restoration labs of the new Fustat Civilization Museum are ‘now’ outfitted with all the equipment expropriated from the Aswan Museum – they just cleaned it out. Egyptian management and planning skills are well ‘known – just grab the nearest thing at the last moment’. They had 11 years to plan for this and they didn’t. Presumably the New Director of Civilization did this, knew it was coming and hadn’t planned for it and hasn’t replaced what he took from the Aswan. Sometimes its like moving deck chairs on the titanic or is it more like pea and thimble.

If you could check the birth and marriage registration records I’m pretty sure that he would be like a lot of other odd appointments – he’s related by blood or marriage to someone important.

Both chaps, they will never give a big job to a woman, face a screaming first question. What do they have in their possession/control. There is no paper or computer record of what either have and neither of these chaps or their Ministers have made a single statement/commitment to come up with even a number let alone a detailed description. That hypocrite Hawass has never even come up with a specific figure for Tahrir on his 2019 ‘chat’ site– he just uses flouncy generalized figures – give 10,000 or so. Still I’m assuming that one or the other will do a job of hard work – that would be a first.

What is Egypt doing to look after what it has. With building restoration I assume that many on this forum know that its either nothing/little or, worse, attacking a building with a cement mixer. There is little between these two bad options. Take smaller physical objects. The GEM claim that 12 restoration/repair labs have been built but building new things is one thing, running them properly is another.

Here is one example of their restoration work stage managed a few years ago for the NPR.

Two photos made by US National Public Radio in 2016 on a fully supervised and planned visit to the labs in the new monstrosity at Giza. You would expect that everything be set up to look its best. Here are two technicians/scientists/idiots handling treasures. The one on the left has Tuts sandals, the one on the right Tut’s linen underwear. Neither of these fools is wearing gloves, a mask or hair net (and beard net) and both are wearing street clothes with a pretentious white medical jacket over their not so sterile clothing. Wonder whether they even have a full HazChem body suit in storage. What if they sneeze, cough or dribble? Staff in a western food preparation area or food factory would be better ‘equipped’. The sandals appear to be sitting on just the table surface not on any ‘prepared’ surface. The light on the left appears very, too, bright, and has no built in magnifier for close examination. Neither are wearing magnifying goggles.


Both are doing their work in large rooms full of germs and dust. At least in the west the staff are trained and equipped and the room conditions meet standards. For Hawass that is not enough – he wants everything returned so it can be stolen in Egypt (after 11, possibly 15 years years of ‘effort’ the Museum has no catalogue/inventory of its holdings.

The absence of any other staff in this large sarcophagus is interesting.

A minor point, the chairs are middle management very padded standard office chairs on rollers. Do labs usually have these. You can see they are not high enough for the work tables and for people working long hours on detailed, precise matters you need a more ergonomic and less padded/I’m a big man, type chair that can go up high and not roll around. The floor appears concrete so chairs will roll around. Lets hope its sealed and varnished (Terrazzo would be nice but that would require skill and taste) – but it won’t be.

The so-called new lab. designed by Irish kid architects (Although Newcastle defends them even though 20 years later they have no second big, or even moderate, job – because, I argue, they weren’t very good) no one had ever heard of them and their big achievement in these labs looks like a shed with a 20-30 foot ceiling and a whole lot of pipes which might be air-conditioning. The fluorescent lights must be 25 foot from the ground and not suspended on wires which is bizarre for a lab but might suit a middle market shopping complex. Its unclear but the roof/ceiling doesn’t look insulated so any ac will be useless in trying to keep the tin roof from cooking the staff. Lets hope the rest of the monstrosity is better designed from a functional point of view.

If this is the staged photo event for the world press guess what its like when the westerners leave. The absence of female staff is unsurprising – when did Hawass promote females although he did do a lot of other things to them

This other example confirms the horror. One ‘restoration expert’ – probably Egyptian trained - is sticking lumps of colored sticky/plasticine style glue into big gaps of a possibly broken c.1 meter stone stele. In addition the glue is the wrong color. And Hawass wants valuable western objects to be returned to be destroyed by these people.

Independent reports, quoting Egyptian experts and insiders, say that their restoration labs are a shambles and not capable of doing much good. ... old-guard/. As if there wasn’t enough to repair, insiders say the move has been badly handled with lots of extra breakages in transit, so GEM’s efforts are actually making things worse.

An aside. Here is a data base of news items of looted Egyptian objects. Overwhelmingly the looting/theft activity is in Egypt, and with Ministry staff, and in the region. The Hawass rants about the decadent thieving West don’t fit the current facts and the local maladministration because Egypt and its brothers are doing most of the dirt.

Egyptian Pharaoh
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Re: Grandiose Egyptian Museum

Post by A-Four »

Many thanks for you subject post here Hafiz. I am quite worried about this new museum, will it be all about the glint of gold, or will it be a real educational centre, one thing is for sure it will not be anything like the present Egyptian Museum most of us know so well.

Many dislike this old museum, but let us remember it is the world authority on all things that relates to the ancient Egyptian civilization. To give an example, in the Luxor Museum as you enter, you first notice the only item that remains of the whole 5000 collection of Tutankhamoun, is the head of the cow goddess Hathor. For thos who take a keen interest should walk to the back of this item, then notice that the black shtuca was allowed to drip behind the horn of the said item, in other words this was a rushed item. We now move to Cairo and see the magnificent collection of Tutankhamoun, but with careful observation we should notice the simple but wonderful gave goods of Yuya and Tuya, with little or no gold. If we were to look slightly to the opposite side of that hallway, we would see standing, the inner coffin of the great Ramassis II. The most important thing we would notice is that the carved WOODEN innermost coffin carefully represents the remains of his mummified body.

As an educational museum, alarm bells should certainly be ringing out in the head of any serious student of Egyptology, being that the great Ramassis had only a wooden coffin, perhaps covered in gold leaf, but to have a boy Pharhaoh buried with such splender is not quite right. This is when the careful student looks with serious interest, that he or she then realises that the portrait depicted on each of the coffins and sacophagus of Tutankhamoun notice that each are very different.

I would imagine that the new GEM will be a wonderful glitzy place that tourist will love, but for those who have 'eyes to see' will learn little.

Over the week-end I will write-up on the various changes that have taken place in most of the famous museums in England, whether good or bad.
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Re: Grandiose Egyptian Museum

Post by A-Four »

We all know the old sterile museums of the past have changed. In the U.K. many of the small town museums simply closed, others including the national museums had to change, they had to become informative, interesting but most important educational. This idea before the year 2000 was difficult to develop, being that many were, and still remain world authorities. What we know as an Egyptian artefact can range from a simple amulet to a colossus statue of Ramessis II, but both can be equally as important in the archeological understanding.

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo has 100,000 artifacts, a world authority, but so do The British Museum, then there is the Petrie Museum 80,000, then we have the principle English Museums such as The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 40,000 and The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge 16,000. All these authorities in their own way are within easy reach. Then we have the British Univeristy collections, though in truth have always been a little evasive as to what their collections hold.

The earliest of the main informative museums to bring its collection into the new era was probably Manchester University. It holds the collection from the tomb of The Two Brothers, discovered by Petrie. The collection is displayed wonderfully, with special lighting and modern day computer aids. The old question though is still raised by visitors and students alike,.....'If they are brothers, how come one is black, and the other white'. This problem was resolved about this time last year, when D.N.A. tests were carried out, the results were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. I think some one on here reported this.

The greatest disappointment in Britain is in fact the British Museum. In the year 2000 the so called new Great Court designed by Norman Foster, was to be a fantastic new gallery for Egptian, Greek and Roman statuary, where in fact it became a collection of cafes and restaurants. In truth, less than two-thirds of the Egyptian are now on show to the public than before the year 2000. There are so few lecture now, though the galley talks are still available on a daily basis.

The Ashmolean Musean in Oxford has always been one of the world authorities on Egyptology, it's collection is vast, but for the serious student, in the early years of the new millennium, it was totally transformed into a modern learning centre, and will, I'm sure will remain a great institution.

There is one other rather special place in Oxford, that is so often missed by visitors, it is somewhat rather bizarre place to say the least, but absolutely amazing are the contents of the collection, and I use that word very carefully, of items collected up from all over the world. The place is quite well hidden and can only be visited by first entering The Museum of Natural History, you will then notice an entrance to what is called The Pitt Rivers Museum, on entering you could honestly believe that you have just entered a somewhat bizarre glass tomb catacombs of antiquities. Here in a number of these glass 'boxes' the student of Egyptology will notice, some quite important small items of Egyptology, though in this 'museum' they are simply one of the other 600,000 items of this collection. To get an idea of this place, simple check out an image on your computer.

I now deal with Cambridge, for several reasons this is the true secret 'jewel of Egyptology'. First the Fitzwilliam Museum, affectionately called the Fitz, recently totally remodelled to give the visitor even more space than ever to show off its vast collection of high quality artefacts. Not far from the Fitz, is a small and easily missed museum called the M.M.A., again totally refurbished. It has a small collection of Egyptian antiques, that are displayed plainly and simply, they are not illuminated with special spotlights, nor are they given status, BUT even to the first year student of Egyptology,.....they will blow that person's brains. Some will remember the recent exhibition of Harry Burton's Tutankhamoun photographs and lectures held at one of the galleries of this museum.

So, now I wonder what will the G.E.M. really be like, a glint of gold emporium, a collection of items, a truly internationl educational centre,.....or what.

P.S.- I understand that some 5,000 items from Tutankhamoun's tomb will be put on display, many that have never been seen before. The official line on this is that,.......'Every item that came out of the tomb will be put on display at the G.E.M',.........somehow, I don't think that is possible.
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