In a grand ceremony attended by Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa, the Imhotep Museum in Saqqara Necropolis reopened its doors following a comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation project.
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri and Director of the Imhotep Museum Mahmoud Farouk were among the attendees.
Issa expressed his delight in the revitalization of the Imhotep Museum, a gem among the archaeological site museums. The museum delves into the legacy of Imhotep, the revered architect who pioneered stone construction with the Step Pyramid of Djoser, marking a turning point in Egyptian architecture.
Issa underscored the museum’s strategic location within the Saqqara archaeological area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, further enhancing its significance. He commended the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ remarkable financial strides, emphasizing that during the fiscal year 2021-2022, the council covered two-thirds of its expenses without relying on the state budget.
The early months of the current fiscal year have witnessed a remarkable turnaround, with the council’s reliance on the state budget virtually eliminated. This achievement is attributed to a combination of factors, including the dedication of council staff and the increase in ticket prices for museums and archaeological sites, resulting in a fivefold surge in revenues.
Anticipating revenues exceeding EGP 6bn, Issa emphasized the positive impact on the council’s ability to fund development and restoration projects, maintain archaeological sites and museums, and ultimately elevate the tourist experience.
He also highlighted the ministry’s focus on encouraging investment in tourism services at archaeological sites and museums, aligning with its strategy to enhance service quality and generate additional financial resources for restoration, development, and rehabilitation initiatives.
To preserve the interpretive value of the exhibited artefacts and immerse visitors in the life and achievements of Imhotep, the museum’s original display scenario has been retained. The scenario revolves around three themes:
- Architectural and artistic styles in Saqqara
- Evolution of burial methods and artefacts throughout ancient Egyptian history
- The life and legacy of Imhotep, the visionary architect
Six temporary showcases have been added, showcasing approximately 70 archaeological pieces, including remarkable discoveries made by the Egyptian archaeological mission led by Waziri in the Saqqara area.
Originally opened in 1997, the Imhotep Museum underwent closure in March 2022 to facilitate development, rehabilitation, and the addition of a new shrine. The project’s total cost amounted to approximately EGP 48m.
The museum’s unique collection boasts the first known surgical tools dating back to the late Fifth Dynasty and the oldest royal mummy of Meri-En-Ra, the fourth king of the Sixth Dynasty. Additionally, rare animal mummies, including lion cubs, baboons, cats, and crocodiles, captivate visitors.
Spanning an area of approximately 1500 square meters, the Imhotep Museum houses 286 exhibited artefacts distributed across six halls within 27 display showcases. An additional 70 temporary exhibits are displayed in six temporary showcases, and a library complements the museum’s offerings.
The first hall unveils a rare stone piece serving as the base for a statue of King Djoser, inscribed with the titles of the architect and physician Imhotep. The second hall is dedicated to the library of the French architect and archaeologist Jean-Philippe Lauer, who dedicated 75 years of his life to uncovering the secrets of the Djoser Pyramid complex.
The third hall showcases the architectural elements that define the Djoser Pyramid complex, while the fourth hall, titled the Saqqara Tombs Hall, houses significant artefacts from the Fifth and Sixth Dynasty kings. Among these treasures is the mummy of King Meri-En-Ra, one of the Sixth Dynasty kings, considered the oldest royal mummy.
The Saqqara Pottery Hall, the fifth hall, displays a diverse collection of pottery pieces in various shapes and sizes, unearthed from the pyramids of King Djoser and Second Dynasty kings. The hall also features notable wooden and stone statues of high-ranking officials.
The Missions Hall, the final hall, showcases the most remarkable discoveries made by Egyptian and foreign archaeological missions in Saqqara. These include the oldest and most significant collection of surgical tools in history, alongside bronze statues of Egyptian deities.
To enhance the visitor experience, a visual preparation hall has been equipped to display films highlighting the importance of the Saqqara archaeological area.