Gayer Anderson Museum – The Art Museum in Sayyida Zeinab, Cairo

At Egypt Tours Plus, it is unlikely that you will find the Gayer Anderson Museum listed in our regular Egypt tours or our amazing Middle East tour packages, but that is not because the Gayer Anderson Museum isn’t worthy of a place in our tour itineraries. Instead, it is only because there are just so many tourist attractions in Egypt. It is a matter of too many places to see, and not enough time to see them all.

Gayer Anderson Museum - Photo by Berthold Werner

The Gayer Anderson Museum is situated adjacent to the Mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun in the Sayyida Zeinab neighborhood of Cairo.

The Gayer Anderson Museum is best described as being an art museum. Located in Cairo’s Sayyida Zeinab neighborhood, the museum is named after a man by the name of Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson who lived in the building from 1932 to 1942, after being given full permission to do so from the then Egyptian government.

While the building was already home to numerous treasured artifacts, Gayer-Anderson also contributed many which he had personally collected during his time in Egypt. Today, people who visit the Gayer Anderson Museum are treated to a delightful collection of artifacts, including fine carpets, various furnishings, a very impressive art collection and more.

One of the wonderful things about this particular museum is that it is not only the contents of the museum which attract people, but also the building itself. It is in fact considered to be one of the very best remaining examples of 17th-century Muslim architecture in Cairo, and especial domestic Muslim architecture from that period.

The General Layout of the Museum

The Gayer Anderson Museum is technically two houses joined together by a bridge on the third level. Back in its day, this building would have been split into two sides, with one side being the Haramlik or residence, and the other side being the Salamlik or guesthouse. Only the master of the house and his wives and children would have enjoyed access to the Haramlik side, while guests would only have had access to the Salamlik side. The only exception would be very close friends who were invited into the Haramlik by the Master and his family.

Collectively, the complex consists of several rooms and hallways which visitors can explore while they are there. Most, if not all of the rooms, have interesting artifacts on display, most of which were left behind by the various people who lived on the premises at one point or another.

For example, in the open-air reception room, visitors can see a collection of brass bowls dating back to some point between the 14th and 17th century, while in the main reception room one can see beautiful marble tables and a green colored carpet which was made from silk and known as the Holy Carpet.

The museum is also home to many works of art, along with plenty of fascinating furnishings, some of which were either brought back to Egypt by Gayer-Anderson when he returned from places like Damascus and Turkey. There are also a few beautiful wooden cupboards which he made himself.

One particularly nice room at the Gayer Anderson Museum is a room now referred o as the Ancient Egyptian Room. This was once the private study of Gayer-Anderson, and several ancient artifacts from his collection are still on display in the room, including a brass Ancient Egyptian Cat with gold earrings, and a small black and gold mummy case which dates back to the 18th century BC.

In short, no matter which room you walk into, you are going to see some truly remarkable artifacts on display, and that is even before you focus any of your attention on the unique features of each room. The property is also home to a 15-meter-deep wishing well, along with several fountains which further enhance the experience for visitors.

A Brief History of the Gayer Anderson Museum

The actual buildings were built against one of the outer walls of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun which still stands today. At the time, it was very common for people to build private homes in the manner, but in the early 20th century, the amount of homes in the area, most of which were very run down, effectively prevented anyone from being able to see the mosque, and so the decision was made to tear them down.

However, because the museum buildings was so well-preserved, they were spared and partially restored, and once Gayer-Anderson was given permission to live in the premises, he set about restoring the buildings even more. He also took charge of installing electricity and all new plumbing.

In 1942, Gayer-Anderson was forced to move out as a result illness, and he donated his collection and all the contents in the house to the Egyptian government, and in return, King Farouk bestowed on him, the title of Pasha. Major Gayer-Anderson Pasha succumbed to his illness and passed away back in England in 1945. Later, the Gayer Anderson Museum would open in his memory.

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