Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Art attack

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Were last weekend's allegations over objects missing from the Museum of Islamic Art's new display aimed at stirring up more controversy over the Ministry of State for Antiquities?

The well-known Egyptian writer Farouk Goweida, who writes a column in Al-Ahram daily, wrote last Friday under the heading "Who did plunder the Museum of Islamic Art [MIA]?" that 80,000 objects had gone missing from the Ministry of State for Antiquities [MSA] -- among them are a gold incense burner that once belonged to French Empress Eugenie; the gold and diamond sword collection of the Taymour Pasha family; 130 handmade tapestries and carpets of Mohamed Ali Pasha Ibrahim; as well as the swords that belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte, Murad Bey, the Mamluk Sultan El-Ghuri.

Goweida also complained that there was no masharabiya (decorative woodwork) gallery in the MIA's new exhibition scenario, while several objects had been transferred to the presidential palaces during restoration. Goweida also asked why the MIA has only 2,500 pieces on show out of the 90,000 in its collection?

At the end of his column, Goweida asked Prosecutor- General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud to conduct investigations as to where these objects now were and to punish any criminals, if indeed there were any.

Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass, however, has rebutted Goweida's accusations and blames him for listening to "amateurs" who have fuelled him with false information. He also invited Goweida to visit the MIA and see for himself that all the objects he mentioned were safe in the museum's storehouse.

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