The Nubian Museum (officially the International Museum of Nubia) stands in Aswan, Upper Egypt. It was dedicated to Nubian culture and civilization, inaugurated on November 23, 1997, and was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2001. It was built to a design by architect Mahmoud El-Hakim for an estimated construction cost of LE 75 million (approximately $22 million at the time).
Established as part of the UNESCO International Campaign for establishing the Nubia Museum in Aswan and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo, the Nubia Museum in Aswan opened to the public in November 1997. Since then, it has won widespread praise for the quality of its design and collections.
The Nubia Museum showcases one of Egypt’s many civilizations. It also functions as a community museum for the Nubian people, having a vital education programme and raising local, national and international awareness of Nubian history and culture. The project comes as one of the results of international efforts made during the UNESCO International Campaign to rescue the Monuments of Nubia from the rising waters of Lake Nasser behind the Aswan High Dam.
In 2011, the Nubia Museum hosted an exhibition entitled ‘Common History: A Museological and Educational Approach to the Dialogue of Cultures and Civilizations.’
The Nubia Museum occupies a 50,000 square-metre site on the banks of the Nile at Aswan, 7,000 square metres of which are given over to the Museum building. Designed to evoke traditional Nubian village architecture and finished in local sandstone and pink granite, the museum won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2001. it was designed by the Egyptian architect Mahmoud El-Hakim, with landscaping by Werkmeister & Heimer Landscape Architects (Germany) and Leila Masri of Sites International. Furthermore, Mexican architect Pedro Ramerez Varquez designed the museum’s exhibitions.
The Nubian Museum covers an area of 50,000 square meters, 7,000 of which are devoted to the building, while the rest are devoted to gardens and other public spaces. The building has three floors for displaying and housing, in addition to a library and information centre. The most significant part of the museum is occupied by monumental pieces, reflecting phases of the development of Nubian culture and civilization.
Contents of Nubian Museum
The Nubia Museum in Aswan houses finds, assembled during excavations carried out as part of UNESCO’s International Campaign to save the Monuments of Nubia, threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s. Also, it showcases many of the more than 3,000 objects found during the excavations. Moreover, the museum serves as a focal point for Nubian history and culture, its collections presenting the history of Nubia from prehistory to the present day.
Three thousand Egyptian antiquities, representing various ages, Geological, Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic, were registered. The open-door exhibition includes 90 rare monumental pieces. In comparison, the internal halls contain 50 useful compositions dating back to pre-historic times, 503 pieces belong to the Pharaonic period, 52 to the Coptic era, 103 to the Islamic age, 140 to the Nubian era, in addition to 360 pieces reflecting the history of Aswan.
The Nubia Museum in Aswan hosts a research and documentation centre on Nubian archaeology, history and culture, and materials of UNESCO International Campaign. It is surrounded by landscaped grounds that integrate it into the local topography and serve as an outdoor exhibition area in the Nubian environment.
The museum is built on a cliff, enabling it to embody a full-scale design for the Nile River from Ethiopia and Sudan to Egypt. It is a Natural Botanical Garden containing much Egyptian flora surrounding the edifice.
Since the museum opening, the administration has kept upgrading their caretakers. Since opening, the Head Director of Nubia Museum has been Dr Ossama AW Abd El Maguid (known as “Ossama Hassoun”). He is an Egyptologist and a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Saving Egyptian Culture Program.