Museum of Islamic Art (Cairo Islamic Museum)

Museum of Islamic Art (Cairo Islamic Museum)

The museum is regarded as the largest in the Middle East and houses 86438 rare objects dating from early Islam to the Ottoman period. The museum of Islamic art is truly a wonderful reservoir of Islamic antiquities. It has a vast supplement of about 10200 artifacts that one cannot explore in a single day. The museum displays arts from the different Islamic eras that Egypt passed through including the Fatimid, Turkish and Persian periods. From the Fatimid Period, one can find a fine collection of wooden panels, which are the only surviving pieces of the Western Palace of Al Kahira Palace. And people love the craftsmanship of the Mihrabs of the tombs of Sayeda Ruqayya and Sayeda Nafeesa. The artworks include woodwork, stucco, intarsia, ceramics, glass, metalwork, textiles, and carpets.

The Museum of Islamic Art opened in 1881, in the ruined Mosque of the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim, adjacent to the Bab Al-Futuh, Cairo. Initially only 111 architectural pieces were on display. By 1884, the arcades of the mosque were filled to overflowing in 1884 and a two story structure was built in the courtyard to house the collection of 900 objects. When the collection numbered to more than 3000 artifacts, the new building became too crowded and the present building in Bab Al-Khalq was constructed. It was completed in 1902 in neo-Mamluk style.

The renovated museum is split into two wings. On the left are materials from all over the Islamic world: textiles, carpets, windows, mashrabeyas, ceramics and even surgical instruments and tiny perfume bottles. The right wing is devoted to the chronological exhibition of Islamic artifacts taken mainly from monuments in historic Cairo located just a few steps away from the museum. The left wing will display materials from other countries besides Egypt, including calligraphy, manuscripts, ceramics, mosaics, textiles, grave stones, mashrabiya, woodwork, metal and glass vessels, incense burners and caskets, pottery, metalwork and glass lamps dating from different periods in Islamic history. These objects will be displayed both according to chronology and according to theme, provenance and material.

The museum of Islamic Art is in Bab El Khalq Square in the Egyptian library. The museum's main entrance, located on Port Said Street, includes an introductory gallery that discusses Islamic art and the Middle East through a mixed media display of panels, maps and objects from the collection. The geography of historic Cairo and the early Islamic city of Fustat, the oldest Islamic settlement in Egypt, is also discussed here.
Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo
Museum of Islamic Art (Cairo Islamic Museum)
352 Ahmed Maher Sq., Main Entrance on Port Said St., Bab El-Khalq, Cairo
Take Port Saed Square to reach the intersection with Muhammad Ali St. in Ahmad Maher Square.
Hours: The museum is open throughout the week from 9 am to 4 p.m. except on Fridays, when it is open from 9:30 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 p.m. to 4p.m.
Tel. +20-2-3909930, 23901520

Last Updated on Monday 17th January 2011