TRAVEL THERE: MORE EXHIBITS THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT
When we finally found the museums at the Library of Alexandria, we were stunned by everything there was to see. Come along with us.
Confession: I know little to nothing about Arab Art. I like what I see, but I can’t name any favorite artist or tell you the life story of any of them. In sixteen and a half years of formal schooling in the US and a degree in Humanities, that’s a pretty sad situation. The Dallas Museum of Art’s Keir Collection is beginning to open a few doors for me on this subject, but I really do understand the blind spot in my knowledge.
This means that I had no idea of what I was looking at down in the guts of Alexandria’s famous library, but I can tell you it was beautiful. In gallery after gallery I found plenty to enjoy.
There were sculptures and works on paper. There were paintings, from the very modern to the very old, with a great representation of what is known as folk art, but some of it didn’t look very folksy to me. It looked spectacular.
There was a whole gallery devoted to astronomy and scientific instruments, but they were so pretty you couldn’t believe they’d been designed for practical use. I stood before their cases in awe of the men and perhaps women who had crafted the gorgeous items.
Perhaps my favorite section was the many examples of every day items which transcended the idea of crafts, like the lovely caftans and pottery in the picture above. I moved from case to case wondering about the craftsmen who had envisioned these lovely pieces and envying those who had worn them, poured water from them or carried them from place to place.
There are several different galleries with a variety of Arabic names I wouldn’t even try to spell or pronounce, but I didn’t worry about the divisions. You can’t make up for lifetime of neglected information in a few hours. I promised myself I’d learn more about these talented artists and artisians, but on that day, I just resolved to enjoy what I was seeing.
The Sadat Museum
My ultimate destination in the Library was the Sadat museum. This is the area with a personal touch to my favorite Egyptian, my husband. Bill’s Uncle Raouf had been a translator for Nassar, president while Bill was growing up, but Sadat had been actively involved in Nassar’s administration. All of the personal items included in the exhibits of the Sadat Museum were familiar to Bill.
Bill was already hungry when we got to the Library. He’d endured the hour of wandering around lost among the stacks. Then he patiently stood by while I gawked at all the beautiful items in the art galleries. The exhibits in the Sadat Museum were so interesting to him, that hunger stood still.
He lingered at each case, pointing out items similar to those in his own home. He read headlines to me. He’d say, “We had a radio just like that.” The suits Sadat wore were the same style Bill’s dad and uncles wore. The newspapers documenting important events in Sadat’s life were the same newspapers Bill’s family shared around the breakfast table. He looked for familiar faces in the photos.
I’d had a hard time finding the museums of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, but when we finally walked among these treasures, it was well worth the effort. It would have been worth the effort if there had been no Sadat Museum, but because there was, I had a special peek into my husband’s history. It’s something he doesn’t talk about very often, and I loved every moment of it.
If Bill was hungry when we got to the museum, imagine how hungry he was after all the time we spent there. I collected my belongings from the area where they’d been collected and checked. Now it was time to eat. Join us next week as my hungry husband looks for the fish market. In the meantime enjoy these few photos from the museums. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed in the Sadat Museum, but there are other lovely things to see.