The Ministry of Antiquities has announced that the much-anticipated new national museum will be administratively independent from the government.
Egyptians have been anxiously waiting for over a decade for the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum. Sadly, the opening keeps facing delays but coming as somewhat a relief is Tuesday’s announcement that the museum will be managed by an independent, international directorship to avoid Egyptian bureaucracy.
On Tuesday, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh El-Damaty explained “We have a plan for it to have independence and an international board of trustees like the Library of Alexandria,” he told reporters at a news conference near the museum’s 120-acre construction site. The museum will be run independently of the government, similar to the Bibliotheca Alexandria, which opened under a 2002 special act of parliament guaranteeing its administrative independence.
As it stands, only the foundation and a few structures in the museum have been built. The most notable achievement is the construction of a new conservation centre to restore damaged antiquities that is currently operational and restoring pieces that will be featured in the new museum.
The massive project that aims to return tourists to the country has seen countless delays, supposedly due to a lack of funds and political upheaval. The latest projection is that it will be completed sometime in 2018, but we aren’t holding our breath.
The fact that Egyptians will be relieved that an international committee will be running the museum is somewhat of an embarrassment. At the heart of the issue, is that fact that Egyptians know that foreign leadership is needed to have the museum on par with other globally renowned museums. Aside from organising management and avoiding corrupt bureaucracy, they will also be able to protect our antiquities better than we do. If they were managing the current museum, one can imagine that gluing the beard back on the iconic King Tut mask would have never happened.