ITP Team in Cairo: Textile Museum and Coptic Museum
Written by Claire Messenger, International Training Programme Manager
The Egyptian Textile Museum, with its extensive collection that displays the history of the textile industry in Egypt, is located at Islamic Cairo’s Al-Muiz Street near the bustling Khan el Khalili Market.
Sahar Ibrahim El-Sayed (ITP 2007) took time out of her day to give us a tour of the fantastic textile and weaving collections spanning nearly four millennia of Egypt’s history. Although the museum is small, the building housing the museum is an Ottoman era sabil (public fountain) and is an excellent example of how a historical building can be restored and re-purposed. The galleries, spread over two floors, follow a clear narrative from ancient Egypt through the Roman, Coptic and Islamic periods, which allows the beautiful objects to tell a fascinating story of the history of a country through its textile collection.
Sahar was also able to guide us around her current spring flower exhibition and tell us more about the events and programmes at the museum. The day after our visit was ‘Orphan’s Day’ where Sahar and her colleagues had arranged a series of events to both entertain and educate the children.
Thank you Sahar for a wonderful visit and a fascinating afternoon!
Meeting Hadeer Belal (ITP 2013) and Mariem Daniel (ITP 2017) in the beautiful gardens of the Coptic Museum, they gave us a fascinating overview of the history and purpose of the museum and its collections. Founded in 1908 the museum celebrates the history of Christianity in Egypt and despite renovation and restoration, the building maintains many of its stunning original features – particularly the painted wooden ceilings which are a work of art in themselves.
Set amongst the historic churches of Coptic Cairo, the museum displays the best of Coptic art and culture. Hadeer and Mariem started their tour by introducing us to their ‘Object of the Month’ – an object chosen by their visitors, via Facebook. Throughout our tour it was clear that the museum values its visitors and works hard to engage with them through its displays, projects and programmes.
They also explained more about how they use their collections to talk about the history of Egypt and relate the objects and their stories to the life of modern Egyptians today.
We saw some incredible objects – from funerary stelae and sculptures, icons and wall-paintings through to textiles and manuscripts including a section of the Nag Hammadi. The Coptic Museum really is a treasure house and spending time with Hadeer and Mariem, both so passionate about their museum, really brought the collections to life.
Thank you both for a wonderful visit – it was lovely to see you both.