Egypt: Establishing the National Museum of Alexandria in the Bassili Pasha Palace, Egypt Antiquity News

Establishing the National Museum of Alexandria

in the Bassili Pasha Palace

Antiquity News for June 10th 2001

By Amargi Hillier

(Alexandria) Dr. Gaballah Ali Gaballah, head of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, started examining contractors' offers this week for the restoration of the Bassili Pasha Palace. This Palace is scheduled to be turned into the new National Museum of Alexandria. An antiquity committee is also now making the selections for the collection of artifacts, which will be placed in the new museum.

The main idea of this museum is to present the different eras of Egyptian civilization from the Alexandria area. Artifacts will be from the Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras. The museum will also feature modern Egyptian works of art.

Dr. Adel Mokhtar, head of the Museum Divisions of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, expressed that the plan of setting up the National Museum of Alexandria will be divided into two scheduled parts. The first part, which is due to be completed by the end of this year, is a complete restoration of the Palace. The second part of the plan, now underway, is the selection of the artifacts to be placed in the museum. There are plans to display these artifacts using the most up-to-date technologies including auditory headphones providing artifact descriptions in 16 different languages.

The Palace was built in 1925 and belonged to Asad Bassili Pasha, one of the wealthiest wood merchants in Alexandria at that time. Located in downtown Alexandria, the Palace covers an area of 3,480 square meters.

The Bassili Pasha Palace consists of four floors and an underground shelter, which was used during air raids during war. The Palace was designed by a French engineer who used the Italian styles in its construction.

After the death of Asad Bassili Pasha, the Palace was sold in 1954 for 54,000 LE to the American Consulate. In the 90s, the Minister of Culture bought the palace back for 12,000,000 LE to turn it into the National Museum.

Many people from the upper echelons of Egyptian society visited the Palace during its heyday, including Sedky Pasha and Ali Mahr Pasha, the Prime Minister of Egypt. It is known that Asad Bassili Pasha built his grave 300 meters away from the Palace so that his body could be close to his home after his death.