Monday, April 27, 2009

The Agricultural Museum, Cairo, Egypt, Est. 1930

Cairo based Morbid Anatomy Reader Oliver Wilkins recently sent me an email telling me about--and linking to photos of--one of his favorite museums, the amazing looking Agricultural Museum of Cairo, Egypt. I asked him to tell me a bit more about the museum, which I had never heard of; Here is what he had to say:
The Cairo Agricultural Museum was founded in 1930 in the palace of Princess Fatima, in what is now Dokki. With it's numerous buildings, laboratories, themed halls, botanical gardens, cinema and greenhouses, it must have been quite a complex. Little has changed since it was established including the entrance fee of 10 piastres (around one cent).

The museum has fallen into disrepair and many sections are now closed, although the caretaker will take you behind the scenes for a small tip. Highlights include the bread museum, a room of wax models of typical meals of Egypt, a large selection of preserved animals, digestion displays including an inflated cows stomach, and the museum of disease and health. Most of the exhibits date from the 1930s and include exquisite wax models, hand drawn posters and curious taxonomy.

Lack of investment and minimum wages have not helped. A small tip is demanded to see the stuffed Lion, his legs broken from being dragged across the floor and various exhibits are damaged or missing. The Mathaf Al-Zira'ee is a museum that should be in a museum, who knows how long it will be until it goes the way of Cairo's other lost museums? See it while you can.
Click here to find out more about the museum. Click here to see Oliver's complete photoset (these are just a small few of what you will find there; many more amazing photos to be found there.)


dara said...

my new favorite place on the internet! (found completely by accident while researching antique taxidermy images...)

Mrs. Grackle said...

Someone please explain the exhibit featuring the photo of the boy alongside what appears to be shish kabobs! And "thank you" to Mr. Wilkins for sharing this amazing set of photos with us.

amber d. said...

What an amazing space. Those images truly make me ache to explore it myself. Joanna, Oliver thank you so much for bringing this space to our attention. The photo that I believe is titled "Rest" (Lion on ground) has become my one of my new favorites. It's lovely, haunting and uncanny.
Thanks for the share and Joanna as always thanks for the remarkable work you do.

Anonymous said...

The rhino skull is great, and the scene with the lion looks like a strange dream.

I'm interested to know what's on the skewers...?

chicago web design said...

Awesome pictures, is that lion sleeping?

Oliver Wilkins said...

Great to hear such positive feedback to the photos. The Agricultural Museum is one of several amazing old museums in Cairo. If you ever make it I reccomend also tracking down the amazing dioramas at the railway museum, the post office museum, the geography museum, the irrigation museum and the wax museum.

The text next to the sheesh kebab picture advises that young people should eat lots of lean meat and drink plenty of milk in order to develop healthy bones and bodies.

mmn said...

The text and some of the photos are taken (mostly wholesale) from a piece I wrote for Bidoun magazine. See Clare Davies, "Cairo's Agriculture Museum," Bidoun #14 (Objects) (Spring 2008). PLEASE CREDIT!

JE said...

Hi mmn; My apologies; I did not know that your piece was the source for this guest post. Just added a credit line.

Thanks for letting me know!

German said...

It is with great pride that I can say that I visited this museum on three different occasions, and it's one of the damn best museums I've been to. I highly recommend to make a visit in a fairly big group, the laughs are garanteed.

On a side-note, I have a picture of me and a friend both sitting on the back of the very lion seen above, now they tied its fallen/broken leg with plastic twine. Oh yes, looks really classy now.

Certain things, you only see in Egypt.

Oliver Wilkins said...

Apologies but the text and photos are most certainly all mine and I have not read the Bidoun piece. Who is MMM, and can we see the Bidoun piece for comparison? is their a link? please either rectify this or take it off the web.

I took all these photos and wrote the piece myself.

I would appreciate it if you could check with me before posting allegations of plagiarism. This accusation has been posted online unsolicited without informing me...

I suggest removing this piece altogether.