On the occasion of the annual Orphan Day celebrated April 4th, Dr. Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Supreme Council for Antiquities invites all orphans to see museums in Egypt for free. He said that all the museums and tourist attractions will give free entrance to the children, all orphanages and orphan associations in Egypt during the entire month of April
Coinciding with the Orphan Day special celebration are the following schedules and activities these kids will participate. They will be treated to a variety of events starting April 3rd at the children’s school in Haram, Giza Pyramids area; April 10th, Gayer Anderson Museum, Al-Seyada Zeinab; April 17th, Coptic Museum School, Masr Al-Kadima and April 24th, Egyptian Museum School, Tahrir Square in Cairo.
The coastal city of Alexandria also chips in with edutainment contribution benefiting the poor orphans. Celebrating the annual Orphan Day, Alexandria’s Al-Montazah Cultural Association puts up an annual festivity April 4th at the Al-Montazah Gardens in Green Land in Alexandria. The celebration will start at noon.
All orphans are invited
In the April 17 celebration, orphans will be treated to a unique learning experience while touring the Coptic museum. After all, the Coptic Museum initially started as a church museum, founded in 1908 evolved to a giant depository of fine Coptic Art.
In 1910, the Coptic museum in Cairo was opened. It contains several divisions that present several types of Coptic Art. Most valuable possessions of the museum are the ancient icons which go back to the 12th century. Aside from the exotic artefacts from 200-1800 AD showing ancient Egyptian influence on early Christian design, such as the Christian crosses developed from the Pharaonic Ankh or key of life. The museum has ancient illuminated manuscripts such as the 1,600-year-old copy of the Psalms of David. In addition, the oldest known stone pulpit from the St. Jeremiah monastery in Saqqara belonging to the 6th century is kept there.
Significantly, of the four main museums in Egypt including the Grand Museum, Egyptian Museum and the Jewish Museum, the Coptic Museum is the only one founded by Dr. Simaika Pasha who ensured the Coptic displays were housed in a physical environment in harmony with the culture that they represented. Uniquely, this museum in Masr Al Kadima meets the international standards of the International Council for Museums (ICOM). In 1989, the Coptic Museum began a project restoring the icons in cooperation with the Dutch, the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Supreme Council of Antiquities. All contributed to a major project involving counting, dating and reviewing more than 2000 icons. This project was funded by the American Research Center.
Another treat for the orphans is Egypt’s Grand Museum which stands adjacent to the ancient pyramids of Giza. Neighboring a timeless wonder such as the Giza Pyramids, the new museum pays homage to eternal ancient Egyptian monuments, treasures and history with over 100,000 artifacts, most of which were smuggled antiquities retrieved by the government and the SCA from all over the world. Needless, the other city museums such as the Jewish Museum, the Coptic Museum and the Aten Museum likewise received numerous returned ancient pieces now on display for these children.
Although it may no longer be a novelty to kids, orphans will have full viewing for free of King Tutankhamun’s treasures, including a stunning gold mask which covered the head of his mummy at the Cairo Museum. Treasures of the boy King were unfortunately removed from the tomb in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings by British archaeologist Howard Carter.
And though this museum is highly politicized and made controversial by the locals, the orphans are welcome to see the Jewish Museum where Jewish monuments and artifacts are on showcase, featuring Egypt’s sizable Jewish community and culture. Jews who have emigrated from Egypt were even asked to send back artifacts they may have in their possession to complete the museum collection.
With a delayed opening, this museum should have been opened a long time ago, experts say, making it a landmark tourist attraction in addition to the Jewish cultural presence in Egypt. In the past, Egyptians however have hotly debated, scrutinized and even blocked the showcase, exposition or construction of establishments related to Jewish heritage; even objects of historical value were also fought over in Egypt due to religious conflict.
This time this month, orphans will view heritage free-of-charge and free of religious or political mindset and barriers kids usually don’t care much for.