My Possessions, My Identity – A Community Exhibition at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization – (Nagwa Bakr, ITP 2019, Egypt)

Written by Nagwa Bakr, Community Exhibition Officer, Ministry of Antiquities (ITP 2019, Egypt)

The exhibition was held at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization from 27 July 2015, and it lasted four days. We organised this event in collaboration with colleagues from the Egyptian Museum, the Mohamed Ali Basha Museum in Shoubra, Rokn Farouk Museum and the Coptic Museum. The exhibition focused on local collective memory and identity.

In April 2015, we had asked people through social media to donate up to three personal objects and write labels reflecting their experience and individual stories. At the same time, we had been encouraging them to use plain language or Egyptian dialect. People would share many photos with us for the next two months, which diversified our collection.

After collecting many objects, we spent two weeks working with exhibition team, Nermine and Amgad, curators Azza, Nagwa, Abhel Rahman on the classification of the newly built collection. We chose the typological method of classification. Our new collection consisted of coins, photos, old cameras, magazines, newspapers, letters, notebooks and CDs. We also received clothes and old domestic tools, each of them with a different story behind.

The restoration team, Yahia and Mostafa helped us to design a simple, cheap display as our budget was tight. Despite limited resources, the team came up with good solutions. While working on the classification, the designers Joseph and Abdalla created unique labels and posters conveying people feelings.

The traditional heritage team and artists, Aancy, Manar, Germin and Nermine chose the narration alluding to El Mould, a traditional festivity in Egypt. Together with IT engineer Ehab they incorporated typical El Mould elements, including songs, food and drinks.

Our colleagues from the other museums supported our exhibition by organising a series of traditional events at their institutions. The Mohamed Ali Museum presented a traditional, Egyptian version of the baby shower with the actual celebration of a newborn baby. The Rokn Farouk Museum conducted lectures about traditional circumcision. Dr Rasha Kamal from the Children Museum presented a workshop on writing a diary in Ostraca.

People were thrilled and proud to display their objects in the museum, and we were asked to repeat the event.