Weekly spotlight on state culture: Egypt plans for Intntl Museums Day
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To celebrate the 2014 International Museums Day on May 18, the Antiquities Ministry is curating two exhibitions of artifacts that have never been shown before.

The theme for this year’s celebrations, organized by the International Council of Museums, is “Museum collections make connections.” It is meant to encourage new ways in engaging with local communities, and making museum collections more accessible and relevant to the public by focusing on storytelling and re-activating shared memory.

In response, the Antiquities Ministry is waiving admission fees to all museums across the country on Sunday. It has also gathered artifacts from its storerooms that have not previously been shown for two temporary exhibitions to be hosted by the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo and the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo.

Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim explained in a press statement that the event is meant to encourage locals to visit the museums more regularly, and engage with the collections. He said the artifacts will be complemented with insightful commentary and informal tours geared specifically for visitors of diverse backgrounds and age groups.

Two competitions will also be organized to engage visitors, announced Shadia Mohamed, director of the Antiquities Ministry’s foreign organizations department.

The first competition targets children between 6 and 12 years of age, and requires participants to submit a drawing of an object, collection or story from a museum they visit. The second is a museum display design competition, open for teenagers.

Three competitors in each category will be awarded prizes, and all submissions will be exhibited by the ministry. A number of parallel events will also unfold throughout the month, including a series of puppet shows, linking the popular tradition to its roots dating back to the Coptic era.

The International Council of Museums launched the International Museum Day in 1977 to highlight the role of museums in the development of society. In 2013, 35,000 museums from 143 countries took part in the annual event. The themes for the 2015 and 2016 International Museums Days are “Museums for a sustainable society” and “Museums in cultural landscape,” respectively.

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