Thirteen years of planning and construction will culminate in the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) August 15, 2015. Designed to be an engineering masterpiece, the museum is situated on a plateau in the shadows of the Pyramids of Pisa. Built to replace the museum founded in 1902 in downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square this modern marvel will be home to over 100,000 exhibits.
Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim was on hand to oversee the signing of the contracts to begin building the third phase of the 32,000 square meter project. The Egyptian government is hopeful the museum will be a major tourist attraction and estimate between five and eight million visitors annually.
The GEM will house what is believed to be the largest state of the art conservation center in the world. Plans call for open air exhibitions in the Piazza and other outdoor parks on the grounds while providing permanent exhibition galleries, special exhibitions, virtual and large format screens.
Hideki Matsunaga of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, who has provided major funding to the project as well as essential knowledge, boosts that this museum will be comparable to any of the iconic museums in the world such as the Louvre, the Met or the British Museum.
The museum will be equipped with an advanced security system and will have environmental screens, which allow for that open air feel while environmentally controlling the atmosphere to protect the artifacts. The Sierpinski exterior will create another masterpiece in the desert similar to the great pyramids. A translucent material will allow nighttime illumination to filter inside creating an awe inspiring effect.
Construction is planned to continue nonstop to ensure the museum opens on time according to Ibrahim. Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries and the Belgian BESIX Group, the two companies contracted to build the GEM, echoed their commitment to have the project completed on time. Estimated cost for this third and final phase of the construction is set at $810 million, of which the Japanese are contributing 65%.
The two completed phases house the conservation center with labs, storehouses, energy center and a fire-fighting unit. Artifacts have already been brought to the conservation center and are being prepared for final exhibition next August.