The long-awaited opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo will be delayed further after the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, announced “major national projects” will be postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis. The opening date of the new institution, originally scheduled for completion in 2011, has been pushed back numerous times but earlier this year officials said the $1bn museum complex would launch late 2020.
“The President has directed a postponement of all construction activities and openings of major national projects that were to be carried out during the current year 2020 to the next year 2021. This directive includes both the Grand Egyptian Museum and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC),” says a statement posted on the museum’s Facebook page. The NMEC has been under construction in Cairo’s al-Fustat district since 2004.
Construction work is progressing though at the Grand Egyptian Museum according to officials who posted earlier this month images of “lifting and installation of 42 heavy artefacts on the grand staircase… among the most important pieces that have been installed on the grand staircase are the triad of King Ramses II with Ptah and Sekhmet; the statues of King Amenhotep III, Queen Hatshepsut, Senwosret III; [and] the gods Ptah and Hathor”.
First announced in 1992, the gargantuan Heneghan Peng-designed museum near the Pyramids of Giza will be home to some 100,000 Egyptian artefacts, ranging from pre-history to the Greco-Roman period.
The star attraction will be the Tutankhamun collection, with all 5,400 objects from the boy-pharaoh’s tomb going on view together for the first time. The 480,000 sq. m site (bigger than Vatican City) will also host shops, restaurants, a conference centre and cinema catering to an estimated five million visitors a year.