Independent Design Magazine

Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo: A Masterpiece of R...

Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo: A Masterpiece of Restoration

In 1903, Khedive Abbas officially opened the Gallery of Arab Antiquities. Certainly, The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Cairo is regarded as the hero of conservation and restoration . It is the first dedicated museum for Islamic art in the entire history.

Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo: Renovation & Restoration 

The Museum of Islamic Art has by far the biggest collection of Islamic artifacts in the whole world with over 100,000 artifacts.

Not only did the museum contribute to restoring many damaged artifacts and antiquities by highly trained experts and professionals. But also the building itself has gone through a lot of stages of renovation and restoration throughout the years. The result is a masterpiece in architecture, art, and heritage conservation.   


Museum Expansion

MIA has undergone a lot of expansions starting from 1983. These series of expansions increased the capacity of the exhibitions. This created a space for an administrative building, a cafeteria, and a magnificent museum garden. Moreover, the building went through different stages of renovation in the past 2 decades. Yet, the political situation of the country in 2011 hindered the progress.   

In 2014, a terrorist bombing in a nearby police station occured. Consequently, the attack destroyed a huge part of the building and the exhibits. Yet, it has stood up on its feet higher than ever before, as the most recent renovation showed to the world the strength of its expertise.   

In 2016, Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo opened again for the public with a very strong statement in its design. The donations offered by the United Arab Emirates, the UNESCO, ARCE, the Swiss Government, and the Italian Government made the renovation possible. However, this support from such reputable entities opened up the possibilities for extremely neat museum technologies, an intricate interior that greatly serves the exhibits, well-lit spaces using daylight, and an overall great spatial experience. Moreover, the architect designed the building to suit handicapped visitors, with a special tour for blind people. 

MIA impact on society 

Other than having a leading role, MIA also contributes a lot to our society. The Museum offers a variety of scientific and practical local handicrafts workshops that are on the verge of extinction.

Additionally, it works as a research facility for worldwide students who are interested in related fields to Islamic art. Besides, it creates a lot of art workshops and tours for students to raise awareness of the upcoming generations about the importance of heritage and art.  

Linesmag’s Favorite 5 in the Museum of Islamic Art 

In fact, the beauty of the artifacts and the overall organization of the Museum of Islamic Art overwhelmed our team. It took us only minutes to realize that this museum is by far one of our favorite ones in Cairo (if not the most). Check out as well Some of our favorite Art Galleries in Egypt

Although it was very hard to choose, here are our top 5 favorite exhibits. 

1. Wooden portable Mihrab from the Mausoleum of Sayyidah Ruqayyah

Fatimid Era – Egypt
6th A.H /12th A.D century 

What we loved most about this beautiful piece was, other than having a lot of different geometric patterns and motifs, that the MIA restoration team completely restored the Mihrab. The bombing broke the Mihrab down into so many pieces. Yet the restoration team did a great job restoring it to its original state without losing any of the details.  

2. Horse Saddle from silk and velvet pile with embroidered silver threads 

Turkey – Ottoman
10th A.H /16th A.D century 

This masterpiece is exhibited in the Textile & Carpets section of the MIA. Its unique form caught our attention and grew our curiosity about it.

Although the function of this saddle is to protect the horses back. We still see the level of detail and beauty of design on it. Moreover, the selection of fiber material as “silk” and “velvet pile” also ensures the horse with a lot of comforts. This, according to the description of MIA, emphasizes the philosophy of beauty, sympathy, and compassion towards all living creatures in the Islamic Civilization. 

3. Medicine Equipment hall 

Most importantly, this hall contains a variety of exhibits related to the field of medicine during Islamic eras such as books, Glass and copper vessels, medical practitioner vest and more. It caught our attention, especially in this hall, that everything in the Islamic eras was very beautiful that we now regard them all as pieces of art. It seems that the physicians of these eras took the statement “Art as a way of Survival” quite literally.

4. Marble Fountain 

Museum of Islamic art Cairo Egypt Marble Fountain

Egypt – Mamluk

8th – 9th AH/14th – 15th AD century 

One of the best features of MIA is that some exhibits are architectural features in Islamic eras. The fountain (Al-Fawara) is one of the main elements in the various Egyptian Islamic eras, as it was used to cool down the courtyards from the high summer heat.  

The intricacy of exhibiting this huge piece of art gives the visitor a very nice spatial experience, as you have to walk around it and watch all of its details as you walk by.  

5. MIA Arcade and Open Halls 

Museum of Islamic art Cairo Arcade and open Hall

Although this one is not an exhibit, the arcade series is one of the best parts about the museum. It can be seen in the entrance hall, but it’s totally emphasized when you stand at one of the two ends of the arcades. It frames a very nice view of all the exhibition halls laid on the side and in the center a very nice contemporary expression of the Islamic architecture element of repetitive arches. It is elegantly designed with a minimal stepping that gives the arches the identity of the Islamic pointed arch. 

More exhibits from the Museum of Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art is an art, architectural, & cultural masterpiece that sets a great example and a leading role into the advancement of museums in Egypt. Linesmag strongly encourages everyone to take the step of visiting this place to experience it first hand.  

The tickets costs 10 EGP for Egyptians and only 5 EGP for students (100/50 EGP for non-Egyptians adults/students). It is located in Port Said St. In Al-Darb Al-Ahmar district near Downtown and historical Cairo, which is around a 10 minute walking distance from “Mohamed Naguib” Metro station. 

MIA Official Website

Follow Linesmag on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn to catch up on our recent posts or sign up for our Newsletter for free.

An architect with a growing passion for music and art. Abdelbary is interested in diving into the Egyptian culture from a variety of perspectives. His aim is to showcase its diversity and approach societal issues through design.