The American Research Center in Eygpt

Museum Training

Museum Training

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The 2010 graduation ceremony

On September 19, 2010 Dr. Zahi Hawass, Dr. Gerry Scott, and Dr. Janice Kamrin officiated at the graduation ceremony for the Egyptian Museum Registrar Training Project. In a ceremony at the Supreme Council of Antiquities headquarters in Zamalik, Dr. Hawass thanked ARCE, Dr. Scott and Dr. Kamrin, and expressed his pride in the graduates for what they have accomplished and their continuing role in protecting the priceless collection within the venerable Egyptian Museum.

He also expressed his gratitude to USAID for its funding of the project and for the additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which allowed the museum to acquire a needed collections management computer system into which the Registrar team has been entering collection database information.

On January 28th, 2011, amid the chaos of the recent Egyptian revolution, the Egyptian Museum was broken into for the first time in its history.

More than a dozen vitrines were broken and
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The Egyptian Museum, Cairo

objects were scattered all over the museum. The army took control immediately, with their first priority to secure the museum against further break-ins. The museum staff was allowed in to begin assessing the damage and inventorying the broken vitrines on February 6th. This was by no means an easy task. Only a limited number of staff members were permitted into the museum at all, and for the first few days, only one registrar was allowed in at a time. Since the situation in Tahrir Square, right outside, remained uncertain, the staff had to carry out their inventory in groups, guarded at all times by army commandos. Moving in groups was necessary to ensure everyone’s safety, but made the work very difficult and slow. Every gallery in the museum had to be searched carefully, and the garden and even the roof had to be checked as well. The vandals had tossed things everywhere, and objects were found in the most unlikely places, even discarded in trash bins.

As bad as this was for one of the world’s most iconic Egyptology collections, it could have been worse. The fact that registrars were on staff and able to take an inventory of the objects is important to note here. The database created as part of the Registrar project was an enormous help during the recent crisis. Inventories were made and the team was able to enter information about damaged and missing objects into the database.

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Registrar trainees in 2008

The Registrar team worked closely with the museum director, Dr. Tarek El Awady, with department heads Dr. Yasmin El Shazly and Dr. Hanane Gaber attending the inventory committees and completing and checking the records in the database before producing object lists. As difficult as the task was, especially with pressure from the media for the museum to provide information as quickly as possible, it would have been even more so without a working database. This experience underscored the importance of the work the ARCE team has been doing, which the Registrar’s Department will carry into the future. The department looks forward to continuing the work of improving documentation and collections management at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in the years to come.

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