Zamalek exhibition offers glimpse of royal faces from a bygone era
Ahram Online visits an exhibition at the Centre of Arts dedicated to the Mohamed Ali dynasty
An exhibition at the Centre of Arts in Zamalek offers a fascinating glimpse into Egypt's monarchical period, with a collection of paintings and statues depicting the Mohamed Ali dynasty which ruled Egypt for nearly 150 years.
The "Features of an Era" exhibition, which opened in January and closes next week, is showcasing a number of items that have never before been displayed for the public.
According to the director of centre and the organiser of the exhibition Ehab El-Laban, "Features of an Era" is the newest in the series of exhibitions called "Treasures of our Museums" hosted at the centre since its inauguration, focusing on unique items from Egyptian museums.
The Centre of Arts is located in Aisha Fahmy's Palace, a neo-classical European architectural gem in upscale Zamalek. The palace was built in 1907 was turned in to a centre of arts by the Ministry of Culture in 1975.
It was closed for the past two decades for renovations and was reopened in May 2017. It has since begun to host a series of exhibitions.
The first exhibition's theme was paintings by internationally renowned artists in Egyptian museums. The second was "ancient textiles" from the Islamic and Coptic museums.
The current exhibition showcases 120 painting and artefacts that were already in the less-known Al-Gazeera Arts Museum, which has been closed for nearly two decades due to maintenance and renovation work.
Most of the artefacts are paintings and portraits of members of the Mohamed Ali family, including Mohamed Ali himself, considered the founder of the modern Egyptian state.
The Mohamed Ali dynasty started in 1804 when Mohamed Ali Pasha, an Albanian commander in the Ottoman army, was chosen by the public to rule Egypt to break away from Ottoman rule following Napoleon's short invasion of Egypt in the late 18thcentury.
For nearly 150 years Egypt saw ups and downs under the rule of Mohamed Ali royal family.
The dynasty's rule came to an end on 23 July 1952 when a group of Egyptian army officers, led by Mohamed Naguib and Gamal Abdel-Nasser, overthrew King Farouk, sending him into exile in Italy, where he lived until his death.
On 18 June 1953, the Egyptian republic was officially declared, putting an official end to the monarchy.
Members of the Mohamed Ali family were among the visitors to the exhibition in Cairo, including Crown Prince Mohamed Ali, the son of former King Ahmed Fouad II and grandson of King Farouk, as well his wife Princess Nawal, who came from abroad to see it.
Former Prince Abbas Helmy, the son of Prince Mohamed Abdel Moneim and the grandson of Khedive Abbas Helmy II, visited the exhibition and expressed his happiness to the curators about how it shows the public paintings and artefacts that they have not seen before.
Melekper Toussoun, the granddaughter of Prince Omar Toussoun who was known for his huge contribution to charity, archaeology, culture and the independence movement came from Paris to see the exhibition.
Toussoun praised the exhibition and its organisers saying that she was happy to finally see recognition of the good things done by the Mohamed Ali dynasty in Egypt.
The exhibition also includes valuable household items that were once owned by members of the royal family, like a silver tea set that was used in the inauguration of Suez Canal in 1869.
The exhibition opened on 27 January and will continue until 27 April.
Opening hours are 9am to 9pm.
Entrance is free.
1 Aziz Abaza St, Zamalek, Cairo.
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