ITP Team at the Abdeen Palace Museum, Cairo

In April, Claire Messenger (ITP Manager) and Rebecca Horton (ITP Coordinator) visited Cairo, meeting with many ITP fellows. Over the coming weeks, they will be sharing stories from their time at ITP fellows’ museums across the city.

Written by Rebecca Horton, ITP Coordinator

On our first day in Cairo, Tuesday 3 April, Claire and I made our way to our first venue of the week, the Abdeen Palace Museum. Mohammed Mokhtar (ITP 2013) greeted us to meet the museum’s director before we began our tour of the site.

The museum is sat in beautiful and peaceful surroundings as it was once home to the kings of Egypt from the 18th century and the presidents of Egypt since the 1980s. In 1998 the building was opened to the public and Abdeen Palace Museum presents the building'[s history through rooms of royal and presidential collections and gifts.

Mohamed took us through rooms dedicated to royal hunting, military medals, silverware and gifts made for the royal family or presented to presidents from countries across the world – each room felt like a treasure trove.

A colleague of Mohamed’s enjoyed showing us one object in particular, an 18th century wooden jewellery box from France from King Farouk’s collection. Upon first glance the box looks grand but quite normal, except that there are two locks so that if a thief attempts to break in, a mechanism is triggered to spring into action four loaded guns! As we moved through the galleries we could hear the gasps and squeals of other visitors being entertained by the jewellery box’s ‘big reveal’.

We finished our tour walking through rooms dedicated to the gifts of each president including armour, icons and a miniature golden palm tree and the Historical Documents Museum, containing Ottoman Sultan Decrees. As you exit the museum you are presented with the opportunity to sign the ‘guest notice register’ and offer your opinions on the ticket price, the tour guide level, the way objects are displayed and provide any other general comments.

abdeen claire register

Claire signs the guest register

We finished our visit sat in the sunny grounds of the palace asking Mohamed any further questions we had, of course with cake and tea!

Abdeen grounds 3

Thank you Mohamed for a wonderful first morning in Cairo!