I spent the day at the Egyptian Museum. Violence erupted again at Tahrir Square last night.
Tut and I – well, almost.
A few hundred visitors were milling around at the Egyptian Museum today, including a sizable number of Egyptians, a few individual tourists, at least two foreign tour groups that had arrived in buses, and a media-accompanied bunch of Italians involved in tourism in Egypt who staged an appeal to the world to return to Egypt – in other words, the place was hopping.
But the museum is huge, the crowds were still far from the thousands this museum usually processes in any given day, and many rooms were still nearly empty. At the King Tut room I never had to share the mask or the coffins or all the cases filled with gold, with more than 5-10 people at a time. A Japanese tour group rolled in and would you believe it, was out again in less than three minutes! What is wrong with people?!
I spent the entire day at the museum and I am exhausted.
To western eyes, the museum looks like a dust collecting, dim-lit warehouse full of hundreds of thousands of objects crammed into glass show cases, lined up along endless corridors, and stacked into tall shelves. Once you get over that, you will realize that the most classic and iconic images of Egyptian art are amassed here. The Mona Lisas of Egyptian art congregate here and it is dazzling.
To get to the museum I had to cross Tahrir Square. You would not recognize it. What a month ago was the battle field of a revolution, what yesterday was a carnival of visitors and vendors, today was a busy intersection with traffic going in every direction and a few people gathering in the middle of it. What happened? The BBC journalist had the news: As the midnight curfew approached last night, the police stationed around the square marched in and dispersed several thousand partying demonstrators with batons. Was that necessary? By the early evening, the demonstrators had gained a bit more ground again, but traffic was still flowing in several directions. I guess the revolution is over.
I was able to circle the entire museum. Three weeks ago there were burned out cars, soldiers, tanks, the wounded and fighting factions. No trace of it. Just dangling my camera over my shoulders would have been enough for the soldiers to pull me over. Today, I was able to photograph the burned out headquarters at my heart’s content.
At the museum I searched in vain for traces of the break in. No broken roof, no broken glass cases. I asked five people where the area of the break-in was and got five answers… I gave up. The museum shop provided the only clue: The entire jewelry section was empty. As the news had stated: When the thieves could not get hold of enough gold at the museum, they took to the gift store which had a sizable jewelry department and helped themselves there. What amateurs! They did not even care about the difference.
No cameras are allowed at the museum. Following the instructions I was given when I bought my ticket, I handed over my camera to a storage attendant. But inside the museum I was surrounded by hundreds of people who flashed their cell phones taking pictures. I was not going to have it. I got my camera out of storage, smuggled it by the inspectors, and hid it under my scarf – another very good use of a long woolen scarf. Remember, this is my big Nikon D-90… And then, I took several shots of the general layout of the museum. Enjoy. I did not even use flash!