Thursday February 7, 2019
The National Library of Egypt reopened on Sunday February 3rd, after restorations to the fire damaged building and some of its contents that were caused by the attack on the nearby Cairo Police Headquarters in 2014.
Along the restoration of the building, Graphic Designer Ghada Wali and her partner Dalia Hassan Bahig have been working on rebranding the library. The opening of the National Library of Egypt was attended by the Prime Minister Mr. Mostafa Madbouly, the Governor of Sharjah, UAE Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, the Mininster of Antiquities Mr. Khaled Al Anany, the Minister of Culture Dr. Enas Abd EL Dayem, and the Minister of Religious Endowment Dr. Mokhtar Gomaa.
“We started two years ago and it has been a challenge to contemporize such an ancient civilization to speak a global language of the museum branding industry (bilingually) and to be accepted locally. We have worked on the guidebook which documents all the museum artifacts, the coin book with a beautiful collection, signage and navigation, museum map, hall panels, iconic wall branding, stationery as well as the digital interface all intertwined to tell the same story of this majestic place,” wrote Ghada on Facebook.
The National Library of Egypt is one of the largest libraries in the world with a UNESCO World Heritage Mamluki collection. It holds more than 60,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, and other languages. The collection’s contents span several centuries and several subjects, including religion, the natural sciences, mathematics, poetry, linguistics, history, and sociology. The Library’s holdings also include papyri, maps, calligraphic albums and panels, detached book covers, early printed books and periodicals, and more than 12,000 numismatic objects such as coins and medals.“I learned so much throughout this project and I would encourage everyone to pay a visit and discover our country’s majestic treasures,” wrote Ghada.
The library also includes one hundred and forty Mamluk Qur’an manuscripts and bindings that can be securely dated to the Mamluk period (1250-1517 CE) by colophons and endowment and dedicatory statements. During this time, Cairo became the cultural, religious, and intellectual centre of the Islamic world. The manuscripts are almost unmatched for splendor, opulence, and size in the history of the Islamic arts of the book and they are key to our understanding of developments in Islamic calligraphy, illumination and bookbinding not only in Mamluk Egypt but throughout the Islamic world.
Rebranding the National Library was part of the Thesaurus Islamicus foundation and Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyya Manuscript project
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