Main Museums Exhibiting Ancient Egypt

Museums worldwide display collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts that illuminate the rich history, culture, and religion of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. These institutions range from those located in Egypt, housing the most direct links to this ancient civilization, to international museums that have gathered significant collections.

  1. The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt: Also known as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, this museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of pharaonic antiquities, including the treasures of Tutankhamun.
  2. Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza, Egypt: Once fully opened, the Grand Egyptian Museum near the Pyramids of Giza will be the largest archaeological museum in the world, containing over 100,000 artifacts.
  3. British Museum, London, UK: The British Museum’s collection of Egyptian antiquities is among the world’s largest and includes the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles.
  4. Louvre Museum, Paris, France: The Louvre’s Department of Egyptian Antiquities includes over 50,000 pieces, such as the Seated Scribe and the Luxor Obelisk.
  5. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA: This museum houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of ancient Egyptian material outside Egypt, including the Giza Archives Project.
  6. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA: The Met’s collection of Egyptian art includes approximately 26,000 objects from the Paleolithic era through the Roman period.
  7. Neues Museum, Berlin, Germany: This museum is home to the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, including the iconic bust of Nefertiti.
  8. Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, Berlin, Germany: Part of the Neues Museum, it holds one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Egyptian antiquities.
  9. Field Museum, Chicago, USA: The Field Museum holds an extensive collection of mummies and artifacts from ancient Egypt.
  10. Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy: This museum has one of the most extensive collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world, with more than 30,000 artifacts.
  11. Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London, UK: This museum is part of University College London and houses over 80,000 objects from ancient Egypt and Sudan.

Each of these museums offers a unique glimpse into the ancient Egyptian civilization, providing invaluable insights into its history, culture, and beliefs.

The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt

The Egyptian Museum, officially known as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, in Cairo, Egypt, is one of the most significant museums in the world dedicated to ancient Egyptian artifacts. It houses the most extensive collection of its kind, featuring over 120,000 items. The museum has two main floors, with the ground floor dedicated to a chronological overview of 5,000 years of Egyptian history, and the upper floor housing themed exhibits.

Among the museum’s most famous exhibits are the treasures of Tutankhamun. These artifacts were discovered in the pharaoh’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. The treasures include the iconic gold burial mask of Tutankhamun, chariots, thrones, jewelry, and other grave goods. In addition, the museum holds an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in the ancient world.

The Egyptian Museum also has a substantial collection of statues, stelae, and sarcophagi, including the royal mummies of Pharaohs such as Seti I and his son Ramses II. These items span different periods in Egypt’s rich history, including the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, and the Greco-Roman period.

However, please note that since 2021, many of the museum’s pieces are being moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which is located near the Giza Pyramids. The GEM, once completed, will become Egypt’s main venue for the exhibition of ancient Egyptian artifacts.

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the GEM was not yet fully open, but the plan is to transfer many of the most significant pieces from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to the GEM. This includes the Tutankhamun collection and many other artifacts. Thus, if you plan a visit, it would be wise to check where the exhibits you’re interested in are currently housed.

Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza, Egypt

The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), also known as the Giza Museum, is a massive museum under construction as of my last update in September 2021. It’s located on the Giza Plateau, just 2 kilometers from the Giza Pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The GEM is anticipated to become one of the world’s most significant archeological museums once it is fully operational.

The museum will house over 100,000 artifacts, reflecting Egypt’s rich historical past from the prehistoric era through the Greco-Roman period. Its exhibition space is expected to span over 24,000 square meters, making it the largest archaeological museum in the world.

One of the main highlights of the GEM is the Tutankhamun collection. This collection includes over 5,000 items from the boy-king’s tomb, many of which are being displayed for the first time. Notably, this includes the funerary mask of Tutankhamun, one of the most famous and beautiful artifacts from ancient Egypt.

The design of the museum is also a key feature. It incorporates a beautiful blend of modern architecture with ancient motifs, symbolizing the meeting of the past and the future. The facades of the museum’s buildings are inclined at the same angles as the Pyramids of Giza, providing a visual alignment with the nearby pyramids.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Louvre Museum in Paris has an extensive and impressive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, making it one of the most important repositories of Egyptian antiquities outside Egypt. This collection gives visitors a deep insight into the rich and complex civilization of ancient Egypt, from its origins to the early Christian period.

Here are some highlights:

The Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The Department of Egyptian Antiquities was established back in 1826 and it displays artifacts from the Nile civilizations which date from 4,000 BC to the 4th century. The collection includes over 50,000 pieces and covers over 4,000 years of history.

The Sphinx of Tanis: This colossal sphinx is one of the iconic pieces in the museum’s Egyptian collection. Discovered in 1825 among the ruins of the Temple of Amun at Tanis, it’s one of the largest sphinxes outside of Egypt.

The Seated Scribe: This is a painted limestone statue from the 5th Dynasty (around 2450 B.C) representing a seated scribe at work. It is a superb example of Old Kingdom sculpture.

The Dendera Zodiac: This is a bas-relief from the ceiling of the portico of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera. It represents the zodiac in circular form, which is unique in ancient Egyptian art.

Amenophis III and Queen Tiye: This double statue represents Pharaoh Amenophis III and his wife, Queen Tiye, seated together.

Apart from these, the collection includes countless other artifacts such as statues, stelae, tools, clothing, jewelry, and even sarcophagi and mummies. These artifacts not only represent the art and culture of ancient Egypt but also its religion, language, and administrative systems.

Visitors can explore the collection in chronological order, starting with the earliest dynasties and progressing to the Roman, Coptic, and Islamic periods.

It’s worth noting that the Louvre’s collection is so extensive due to France’s active role in Egyptian archaeological exploration and excavations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

British Museum, London, UK

The British Museum, located in London, UK, is home to a vast collection of world art and artifacts, including an impressive array of ancient Egyptian items. The museum’s Egyptian collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world outside of Egypt. Here are some highlights:

Rosetta Stone: Perhaps the most famous artifact in the museum, the Rosetta Stone was crucial in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. The stone, discovered in 1799, has a decree inscribed on it in three scripts—hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek—which allowed scholars to finally unlock the meaning of hieroglyphs.

Colossal statue of Ramesses II: Known also as Ramesses the Great, this impressive statue from 1250 BC is one of the museum’s key highlights. The upper part of the statue is on display in the museum’s Egyptian Sculpture Gallery.

The Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon: Although not Egyptian, this significant collection of Greek marble statues, metopes, and friezes is worthy of note. They were removed from the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.

The Egyptian Mummies: The British Museum houses a significant collection of mummies and coffins spanning over 4,000 years. The Mummies exhibit provides a look into the mummification and burial processes and beliefs about the afterlife.

The Amarna Artifacts: The Amarna period, during the reign of Akhenaten, was a significant period in ancient Egypt. The museum’s collection includes several artifacts from this era, such as the famous Nefertiti bust.

The Assyrian Lion Hunt reliefs: These are a series of ancient Assyrian palace reliefs from the North Palace of Nineveh that date back to the reign of King Ashurbanipal (668-631 BC).

The Beauchamp-Alkanethi Painted Coffin: This is a brightly painted and well-preserved coffin from about 2700 years ago.

The British Museum’s Egyptian collection provides an extraordinary glimpse into ancient Egypt’s civilization and history. Its exhibits cover a vast time period, from the prehistoric era (c.10,000 BC) to the end of the Roman period (395 AD), spanning over 11,000 years.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, often referred to as “The Met,” is one of the world’s largest and finest art museums. Its collection includes more than two million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present. It has a substantial collection of ancient Egyptian art, one of the finest outside Cairo.

Department of Egyptian Art: This department includes over 26,000 objects of artistic, historical, and cultural importance, dating from the Paleolithic to the Roman period (ca. 300,000 B.C.–4th century A.D.). The collection is particularly strong in art from the era of the pyramids, the Middle Kingdom, and the later periods.

Temple of Dendur: This is an actual, full-sized Egyptian temple within the museum. The Temple of Dendur was built during the Roman occupation of Egypt and was given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, to save it from being flooded after the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The temple was disassembled and reconstructed in the Sackler Wing at the Met.

The Tomb Chapel of Raemkai: An old kingdom mastaba (tomb) chapel dating back to ca. 2455–2350 B.C.

William the Hippopotamus: This is a small, blue faience hippopotamus figurine, one of the most popular items in the collection. It dates from the Middle Kingdom.

Statue of an Offering Bearer: A wooden statue of a woman bearing offerings from the early Dynasty XII, around 1981–1975 B.C.

Book of the Dead of the Goldworker of Amun, Sobekmose: A well-preserved example of a Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian funerary text used from the beginning of the New Kingdom (around 1550 BC) to around 50 BC.

The Egyptian Art department also features significant holdings in sculptures, reliefs, stelae, funerary objects, jewelry, and objects from daily life, providing a comprehensive view of ancient Egyptian civilization from its beginnings to the Roman period. The display is arranged both chronologically and thematically.

Wikipedia: Ancient Egypt
History Channel: Ancient Egypt
Live Science: Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt for Kids
British Museum: Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt