The Alexandria National Museum is a museum in Alexandria, Egypt. It was inaugurated the 31 December 2003 by Hosni Mubarak.
The museum is housed in the old Al-Saad Bassili Pasha Palace. He was one of the wealthiest wood merchants in Alexandria during his lifetime. It is located in a renovated Italian style palace in Tariq Al-Horreya Street. The building used to be home to the United States consulate.
The Alexandria National Museum contains around 1,800 artifacts that narrate the history of Alexandria throughout the ages, including the Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras. There are even some more modern pieces, including 19th century glassware, silverware, chinaware and precious jewels, which provide a sense of the richness of the court of Mohammed Ali and his descendants. Mummies are shown in a special underground chamber (basement). Also, some of the items found during the archaeological underwater excavations in Alexandria are now on the same floor as the Greco-Roman artifacts.
The museum also includes works from the Hellenistic period, including pieces from Heraklion and Canopus. Objects include canopic jars, Mashrabiya, and pieces from the rule of Nectanebo II.
The museum also has a collection of jewelry, weapons, statuary, numismatics and glassware.
Passing through the main gate, one mounts an elegant semi-rounded staircase in view of a life-size Graeco-Roman Period marble statue of a toga-clad matron. Crossing a small but luxuriously decorated foyer with two rows of speckled grey marble columns, one enters the museum proper.
Within, one will find symbolic colors used, just as they were during Pharaonic time, in a specific arrangement. One will notice that the Pharaonic section itself features dark blue walls. This color is meant to portray the journey of the ancient Egyptians to their eternal afterlife. In the Graeco-Roman Period section, objects are set against a sky-blue (marble color) colored backdrop, reflecting romance and a lust for life. As Copts and Muslims share beliefs concerning heaven, the sections reserved for artifacts from these religious traditions are painted green.
The first floor of the museum contains the Pharaonic items including a lot of statues of different ancient Egyptian rulers and gods. Among the masterpieces on display is a statue of King Menkaure, the builder of the third pyramid at Giza, a head of a statue of Akhenaton and a head of Hatshepsut, the great female pharaoh of Egypt.
In addition, there is a replica of a tomb, similar to those in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor. ), that contains one mummy along with genuine funerary equipment. These items include canopic jars, anthropoid sarcophagi containing the mummy and ushabti figures.
The middle floor of the museum contains the antiquities of the Greco-Roman period. There are various statues of Greek ladies and an amazing statue of the god Serapis, as well as a granite statue of Caracalla. There are also some scientific studies that were made in the Greco-Roman period concerning the human body.
The last floor of the museum displays items belonging to the Coptic and Islamic civilizations which reflect how prosperous these two periods were.
There is a cross shape encircled by a crescent, to show the long standing unity and relationship between the Copts and the Muslims of Egypt, dating to sometime between the 13th and 18th centuries.
Coptic Christian items include icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and the Last Supper, as well as tombstones and clothes decorated with golden and silver crosses.
Among the Islamic objects are a collection of 162 gold and silver coins minted in Alexandria, a number of metal incense burners, chandeliers, decorated pottery, doors and mashrabeya windows inset with geometrical ivory ornamentation.
Afterward, there is the section of the family of Mohamed Ali that includes a lot of jewelry made out of silver and gold that belonged to the royal family.
The most interesting section in the Alexandria National Museum is the section that displays antiquities that were found under the sea in Alexandria. The museum also displays live pictures of how these items were pulled out of the sea. This section includes a black bronze statue of Isis, some portraits, and statues of Greek gods which includes an interesting statue of the head of Alexander the Great and another for Venus, the goddess of love.
The museum is valuable because it was initially used to store antiquities, which eventually led the Ministry of Culture to transform it into a museum; giving visitors a clear message about the various transformations that the Egyptian civilization underwent. The museum narrates the history of Alexandria and its people through the antiquities it holds.