The Grand Egyptian Museum is under construction with limited tours available. It’s set to open in late 2023. Here’s what you need to know.
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is set to become the world’s largest archaeological museum – and the future home of the entire Tutankhamun collection.
It will be an absolute must-see on your Cairo itinerary when it opens with its state-of-the-art exhibits and a collection of some 100,000 artifacts.
Many pieces at GEM will be displayed for the first time ever.
And as a long-time expat in Cairo, I’m so excited there will finally be a well-labelled and organized museum to house all these treasures.
I was lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes tour at the GEM and I can tell you – it’s going to be spectacular.
The museum is in Giza right next to the pyramids, which means you’ll be able to easily combine your sightseeing at the plateau with a visit to the GEM. And you’ll be able to visit both with a single ticket.
But for now, the museum is still under construction with a slated opening date in late 2023.
Though it’s already faced numerous delays. It was originally supposed to open in 2020, but construction was delayed because of Covid and other reasons.
GEM is currently offering limited sneak-preview tours and it looks like the late 2023 opening date is very realistic with most of the work complete.
Once the GEM opens it will be a prime destination for Ancient Egyptian artifacts with in-depth and state-of-the-art exhibits.
The museum cost nearly 1 billion USD with the bulk financed by Japanese loans.
And it’s set to include new displays with virtual reality, a children’s museum and conference center.
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak laid the museum’s foundation stone in 2002. And construction has been ongoing since.
Sited on a massive 480,000-square-meter plot of land, the museum is a mere 2 kilometres from the Giza plateau. And it has stunning views of the pyramids from its enormous glass windows.
The museum’s North and South walls line up with the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Pyramid of Menkaure. So expect gorgeous views as part of your experience.
GEM will house the entire Tutankhamun collection. And all the 5,000 artifacts found in the tomb of the boy king will be displayed together for the very first time – a century after they were discovered by Howard Carter.
The artifacts include the famous golden masks, sarcophagi, chariots, precious jewelry, statues and furniture.
King Tutankhamun’s chariots were all moved to the GEM in 2018. And numerous other artifacts were brought in from storage and museum in Upper Egypt, Luxor, Fayoum and Alexandria.
The centerpiece at GEM is a colossal 82-ton statue of Ramses II in the atrium, which is set to house an entire collection of Ancient Egyptian statues.
The granite figure of Ramses II is the atrium’s centerpiece. It was transferred in 2006 from Cairo’s Ramses Square to the museum, then erected inside the atrium.
The statue is so huge that it had to be installed inside the museum while the building was still under construction.
It now stands in an atrium where more large Ancient Egyptian statues will be displayed, safe from the smog and traffic of Ramses Square.
The atrium will soon be filled with limestone, granite and wooden statues of gods, kings and queens and animals that will bring Egypt’s ancient religion to life.
The enormous reconstructed Khufu ship, which once sat beside the Great Pyramid in Giza, will also be exhibited at the GEM. The enormous 42-metre long wooden vessel was built to carry the soul of King Khufu to the afterlife. And it’s a 4,600-year-old marvel of ancient craftsmanship that was relocated to the museum in 2021.
GEM’s other displays are set to include an impressive collection of Ancient Egyptian jewelry like golden necklaces and bracelets studded with lapis lazuli. Jewelry in Ancient Egypt was worn by royals and also placed on tombs to accompany the owners into the afterlife.
Other exhibits will include Ancient Egyptian pottery, weapons, tools used in hunting and everyday life, and papyrus scrolls that include religious texts like the Book of the Dead.
With such an extensive collection, the GEM will offer an unprecedented look into Ancient Egyptian civilization.
Set to bring in some 6 million annual visitors, the museum will also breathe new life into Egypt’s tourism industry.
It will also be a symbolic victory for many Egyptians who’ve had their Ancient Egyptian artifacts looted from their country for decades.
With treasures like the Rosetta Stone still held abroad, the GEM will become a strong counterargument to anyone who claims Egyptians can’t properly care for their own artifacts.
If you’re planning a trip to Egypt soon, then watch this space for the latest news on the GEM opening.
I live in Cairo and I’ll definitely be in line as soon as the museum opens!
I would love to hear from you. Have you visited GEM on a limited tour? What are you most looking forward to when it opens?