The Egyptian Museum (currently open in downtown Cairo) or Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) when it opens, likely in 2022.
Before you go to Egypt, it’s best if you have some sense of the historical timeline before you start taking in loads of ancient Egypt data points!
To that end, I think it’s incredibly helpful to make a visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo BEFORE you venture out to the Valley of the Kings, where all the tombs are located.
The brand new ‘Grand Egyptian Museum’ or GEM is not yet open, so there are still many exhibits on display in the “old” museum, including highlights of the Tut collection (as of May 2021).
NOTE: Not all the Tut pieces are still in the old museum, items like the chariots have been moved to GEM already. But the famous death mask and solid gold coffin, among many other items, are still there (as of May 2021) and will be the last items moved to GEM.
The Tut pieces are an absolute do-not-miss! You will be blown away by the intricacy, beauty and craftsmanship of these objects that are 3,000+ years old and you will marvel at the story of thier discovery.
And when GEM opens, for the very first time EVER, all 5,000+ artifacts found in Tut’s tomb will be on display together. Only a fraction of what Howard Carter found has been on display for the last 100 years, so there will be literally thousands of items never before seen by the public on display at GEM. Worth another trip back to Egypt for me!
MAJOR TIP: Go here with an Egyptologist, or a very, very good guide! Things are not well marked and a knowledgeable guide will help you with context and you will get so much more from the experience. Also-the Mummy rooms cost extra and are worth it!
But wait-there’s more!
There are other notable items here besides the King Tut collection!
Tut was a minor pharoah who ruled for only 9 or 10 years, and is famous mainly because his tomb was found intact instead of totally looted like all the others.
There is the Narmer Palette, which is one of the earliest records of hieroglyphics (kind of like the Rosetta Stone) and is considered one of the first historical documents in the world. It documents the unification of Lower & Upper Egypt.
Here you can also find ‘The Meidum Geese’ painting, considered to be “Egypt’s Mona Lisa”. The painting depicts a now globally-extinct species of geese in incredible and artistic detail.
There are also the famous “Mummy Portraits of Faiyum”, dating back from the Roman era around 260 BC. These portraits are famous for their highly realistic depictions.
And maybe my favorite exhibit besides the Tut Collection was learning about “Yuya & Tuya”, extremely well-preserved mummies that seemingly were not royalty but very well-connected, and thought to be Tut’s great grandparents. Their tombs were found in 1904, and until Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1922, Yuya and Tuya’s mummies and tomb were the most intact ever found.
LOOK at her hair and curls!!
I cannot wait for the GEM to open, it’s going to be a world-class showcase for ancient history!
If this inspires you to put Egypt at the top of your travel bucket list, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to help you plan the trip of a lifetime!