Located in a neo-Islamic architectural masterpiece dubbed al-Saraya al-Koubra (The Great Palace) on the grounds of the Cairo Opera House, the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art provides a refuge from reality. The beautiful building is a calm space amid the chaos of the city, and the vast collection a telling perspective on the country's relatively recent history.

 

The Great Palace, which was built in 1936 and earmarked as a home for cultural and artistic events by Kind Fouad together with French and British royalty, received a multi-million pound makeover towards the end of the twentieth century.  By 1991 it was ready to act as the headquarters for modern Egyptian artwork.

 

Countless Egyptian artists contribute to the dynamic national art scene today. The result, as seen at the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, mirrors the multi-faceted, constantly changing country. In this museum, Egypt is seen through the talent of its artists, and the way they interpret their near and distant environments.

 

In addition to telling a lot about modern Egyptian history and illustrating local trends in art, the work in the museum reflects worldwide trends. Adel al-Siwi’s expressionist masterpieces, Zeinab al-Segeny’s tales of women and children, and Salah Taher’s abstract paintings all fit into the (literal and figurative) maze of artwork on display.

 

The first and second floors showcase pieces ordered chronologically by artist's birth date. Works of twentieth century Egyptian art pioneers are exhibited in dedicated windows. The first floor is devoted to artists born in the late 19th century up to 1931. The second floor shows paintings produced by artists born between 1932 through the youngest generation.

 

Throughout its modern history, Egypt has provided ample subject matter for its artists. The collection on display at the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art is a fascinating lens through which to view the complicated timeline of modern Egypt.

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