Sunday, September 26, 2010

Egyptian Art Academy in Rome

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Paradoxically in a country famous for its superb classical architecture, the Villa Borghese Gardens are landscaped in the naturalistic English manner. The distinguished buildings within them house a number of museums and various other attractions, among them the Egyptian Art Academy (EAA).The building stands resplendent with its new, contemporary glass and marble façade carved with hieroglyphic text.

Following a year of development and restoration the EAA has now started greeting visitors, and its new architectural style combining both ancient and modern is an attraction in itself. The eight million euro restoration project included the renovation of the plastic arts galleries, theatre, cinema, Hi-Tech library, restaurant, conference hall and hostel, as well as the studios and small ateliers for artists and students. Also included in the development programme were the building's main façade and the creation of Egypt's first-ever permanent antiquities exhibition abroad.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told Al-Ahram Weekly that the idea of having a museum in Rome came about when it was realised that Rome, one of the greatest art capitals in the world, did not boast an Egyptian antiquities museum apart from a very modest collection inside the Vatican. An area of 220 square metres inside the EAA was thus allocated for the creation of a museum to display the history of the Egyptian civilisation from the days of ancient Egypt right through the Islamic era.

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