After multiple delays, the Grand Egyptian Museum has announced it will start allowing the public to pre-book tours starting next week. Designed by Irish firm Heneghan Peng Architects, the project was initiated in 2003. The museum, located on a 500,000 sqm site just a mile away from the monumental Great Pyramids of Giza, is designed to accommodate some of humanity's most precious artifacts.
Construction of the Museum began in 2005, but many environmental and financial setbacks delayed the process. At the break of the Arabic Spring in early 2011, work on the project came to a complete halt, due to Egypt’s reduction in tourism and financial stability. In 2014, the project was resumed with the help of international loans to cover the lingering effects of the Egyptian revolution on the country's economy.
Initially, the Grand Museum was set to be open to the public in late 2020. Upon completion, it is set to become the largest archeological museum complex in the world dedicated to one civilization, hosting more than 100,000 artifacts. The design is defined by a large stone facade that changes from day to night, and three visual axes, one for each pyramid in the backdrop. Furthermore, these axes split the building up into three main zones in which the museum's program emerges.
The visitor enters through a great court, where a monumental sculpture of Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II stands in the center. Following this entrance is a secondary forecourt, hosting a grand shaded staircase that ascends to the original plateau level. Subsequently, the permanent exhibition is located in the galleries at the plateau level, designed for the visitor to enjoy a perfectly framed view of the pyramids.
The cultural center is devoted to years of research and egyptology, a place to house a myriad of ruins, artifacts, and antiquity. The Museum includes 24,000 sqm of permanent exhibition space, a children’s museum, conference and education facilities, and a large conservation center. These collections contain the full Tutankhamun Collection and the iconic Solar Boat, which was moved from the Great Pyramids of Giza. The Museum has open access to extensive gardens also designed by Heneghan Peng Architects
Heneghan Peng Architects are most famous for their large-scale projects that change the urban fabric. These projects range from bridges, landscapes, and gardens to cultural centers. Most recently, the firm completed the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, a beacon of history and information about Palestinian history and culture. In Athens, David Chipperfield Architects has unveiled the design for the National Archeological Museum, in search of a balance between the old and the new.