In a festive atmosphere that reflected joy at overcoming Islamist terrorism, the Mallawi Museum in Minya reopened on Thursday 22 September. Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany reopened the museum; he was joined by Minya Governor Essam al-Bedeiwi and a number of officials and foreign ambassadors to Egypt.
The museum in the Minya town of Mallawi, some 250km south of Cairo, had come under attack by Islamists in August 2013, in retaliation for the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime which had come to power in Egypt following the Arab Spring uprising in 2011. The museum was ransacked; some 1,049 of its 1,089 artefacts were reported missing while artefacts that were too heavy for vandals to carry away were damaged in situ. The full scale of the damage and loss was reported extensively in Watani International’s 8 September 2013 issue and on the paper’s website [http://en.wataninet.com/egypt-arab-spring/egypt-post-30-june/the-attack-on-mallawi-museum/1369/]
The majority of artefacts were recovered, handed in by Malawi residents or left at the museum gates after the Ministry declared an amnesty on the return of any looted items.
Elham Salah, head of the Museum Sector at the Antiquities Ministry, explained that the restoration work had started in 2013 after the final report of an archaeological committee assigned to determine the damage to the museum was out. She said that the two-storey museum building had been overhauled and its indoor decoration and design renewed.
A new museological concept was adopted, Ms Salah said, to provide a broader educational service to visitors. It informs of the daily lives of locals in ancient times, their industries, handcrafts and culture.
Waadallah Abul-Ezz, head of the Projects Sector at the Ministry, said restoration had cost around EGP10 million, financed by the ministry, Minya governorate and the Italian government within an Italy-Egypt debt exchange programme. The building, he said, had been completely renovated, with new indoor exhibition halls. A new lighting and security system has been installed and all damaged showcases replaced with new ones.
A jubilant Mr Enany declared that the Mallawi Museum was now back on Egypt’s tourist map after three years of painstaking restoration work. “It is a clear message to the whole world that Egypt will not bow to terrorism or those who are trying to destroy its heritage and civilisation,” he said.
The minister promised attendees that “another success story in Egypt’s fight against terrorism is waiting in Cairo”. The Museum of Islamic Art, also severely damaged by an Islamist attack in January 2014, “will reopen very soon,” he said.
25 September 2016