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More than the pyramids – a grand tour of Egypt’s Museums

My guest post today is by Dannee at Museumchick, who shares the museums she enjoyed in Egypt and her tips on how to get the best out of your Egyptian museum visits.

Many travelers come to Egypt for the pyramids, but the highlight of my recent trip down the Nile was the museums. As usual, I was on a mission to find the great museums (and even the not-so-great ones). I have to live up to my new name, MuseumChick, after all.

The Cairo museum

The Cairo museum

My museum adventure started at the Cairo Museum and continued to the small but extremely interesting Khufu Boat Museum in Giza. Then traveling south along the Nile, I stopped at the Luxor Museum and finished with the Nubian Museum in Aswan.

King Tut lego mask at the Cairo museum

King Tut lego mask at the Cairo museum

My first stop, the Cairo Museum, is the most popular. I’ve heard so much about its highlights; the Mummy Room, King Tut’s treasures, the numerous sphinxes and the over 4000 year old seated scribes statues found in Saqqara. I couldn’t wait to get in there and take some pictures to share with my friends on my blog. Walking to the entrance I could see that the museum was large and seeing the whole collection would take the better part of a day. I paid the $12 entrance fee and then saw the sign…no pictures allowed…bummer.

Exploring the grounds, I found the sculpture garden to be a fun place to get a few shots of statues up close. And did you know that the multi-tasking Cairo Museum garden is also a graveyard? Along with many ancient statues, the gardens also serve as eternal home to François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette (1821-1881), French archaeologist, Egyptologist and the founder of the Cairo museum. Mariette’s tomb rests in a sitting area to the left of the museum. Mariette is also the author of the popular play, Aida. I completed my visit with the new Children’s Cairo Museum located in the lower levels of the main building. Here you can amuse the kids (and yourself) with lego versions of the original highlights of ancient Egypt.

Felucca in the Khufu Boat museum

Felucca in the Khufu Boat museum

A short bus ride away from Cairo and I reached the Great Pyramids of Giza and the smallest museum on my visit, the Khufu Boat Museum. Perched alongside the great Pyramid of King Khufu is the museum (which unfortunately looks more like a trailer) housing the original felucca of King Khufu. This felucca, made from Lebanese cedar wood, was thought to have traveled the Nile in 2500 BC. Discovered in 1954, it took 13 years to restore.To see this gigantic felucca you must climb the stairs to the top floor where the boat sits in sunlight streaming in from the floor to ceiling windows, which also offer a close-up view of the Great Pyramid’s bricks right next door.

Khufu boat museum, Egypt

Khufu boat museum, Egypt

This small but amazing museum can be overlooked by tourists coming to see the Pyramids, so it is relatively quiet. As amazing as the pyramids are, my highlight was seeing this felucca, that has been described by historians as the oldest, largest and best preserved vessel from antiquity.

Traveling down the Nile River, I stopped to explore the Luxor Museum in Luxor. This museum resembled a mini-version of the Cairo Museum with a collection of ancient statues and mummified pharaohs. It overlooks the Nile, so finding the museum is easy. After about an hour inside, I made it out just in time to see the sunset over the river.

Luxor museum, Egypt

Luxor museum, Egypt

Sunset on the Nile at Luxor

Sunset on the Nile at Luxor

To experience the Nubian culture of Egypt, I traveled further down the Nile to Aswan, which is home to the Nubian Museum. This museum does allow pictures and offers a great collection of Coptic and ancient Nubian art. The grounds are especially nice for a stroll around its botanical garden and offers a view of the pink granite quarries where the ancient Egyptians quarried stones for their statues. At this quarry across the street you can visit the unfinished obelisk.

Inside Nubian museum

Inside Nubian museum

Nubian musum in Egypt

Nubian musum in Egypt

On your next trip to Egypt don’t miss these great museums. From my experience, these are some tips you should know when visiting:

Top Tips for Visiting Egypt’s Museums

1. Bring your international student ID (one with a picture) to receive discount admission to most museums.
2. Most museums do not allow pictures. The Cairo Museum will ask you to check your camera.
3. Museums do not accept credit cards. Bring cash and small bills.
4. Expect to pay $20 extra for a ticket to the the mummies’ room at the Cairo Museum.
5. A tour guide is helpful to navigate the Cairo Museum but is not needed in other museums

Thanks to my guest writer Dannee at Museumchick where you can find her stories about museums, art and other cultural events aound the world.

Check prices and book hotels in Egypt through Hotels Combined

More museums articles to enjoy

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Nancie (Ladyexpat)
    March 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    This brings me back to my 2004 trip to Egypt. I loved all of these museums. Back in 2004 you could still take photos in the Cairo museum. I’m not all that surprised that they’ve stopped the practice. As much as I like to take photos sometimes experiencing something without the camera can be eye opening.

  • Reply
    Mark H
    March 24, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Personally I was disappointed with the Egyptian Museum. The collection is stunning and the King Tut treasures are extraordinary but I thought it poorly laid out with poor descriptions of the displays. Saying that, the Tut funereal mask exceeded my expectations as did his other treasures.

  • Reply
    MuseumChick
    March 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Mark- I agree with you, the Cairo Museum was a bit disheveled when I was there and the descriptions on the displays were not well done. Some areas looked like they had been forgotten for a while. That being said, I would still go back because the collection is unique and incredible. I found the other museums throughout Egypt to be more polished.
    Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply
    arlene
    March 24, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    I have yet to go to Egypt though I would love to. This was so informative. Sounds like you saw some amazing collections. And your photos are beautiful. What a good idea to include the tips at the end.

  • Reply
    marta
    March 25, 2010 at 8:46 am

    after seen the great Egyptian collection at the British Museum in London I am really looking forward to visit the Cairo and the pyramids ..one day

  • Reply
    Barbara at Hole in the Donut Travels
    March 28, 2010 at 4:21 am

    Wonderful post full of excellent information and tips. I’ll come back to this one when I visit Egypt.

  • Reply
    MuseumChick
    March 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for all your nice comments. I really appreciate it!

  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    March 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks to airline delays, I never made it to the Cairo museum, but something had to give and it wasn’t going to be the pyramids! I had no idea there was a museum at the pyramids though…now I have to go back!

  • Reply
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