Working at the Staatliche Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (smaek) for the last three
months from August to October was a useful experience and rich addition to my
career in the museum work, especially for my work as curator at the museum
exhibition department, in the Grand Egyptian Museum Project (GEM), in the ministry
of antiquities in Egypt.
In August, I started a general tour around the museum with deputy director Dr. Arnulf Schlüter who treated me as one of the staff since the first day. I saw the exhibits for the first time. I had seen this museum empty in 2012 and I have to admit now that it is completely different from what I expected.
The museum has nine galleries of Egyptian art. All the artifacts are displayed in a new style, the concept of the museum design is a way to the afterlife as the same design of kings' valley tombs in west bank at Luxor, in Egypt.
The concept of the museum is the eternal humanity of the ancient Egyptian art; all the galleries serve to explain that concept in different ways to the visitors according to the topic, artifacts, and multimedia stations of each gallery.
The museum galleries are: The art and form, the art and time, pharaoh, five millennia, Afterlife, after pharaoh, Egypt in Rome, Religion, the script and writing, the artisan and crafts, the grasping Egypt.
First, I participated in working with children in the museum education. I had the opportunity to get to know a variety of programs, workshops and workings of my colleagues and to interact with children of different ages; sometimes I used a little German to speak with them. I learned new methods of how to teach children the investigation of the ancient Egyptian daily life and Egyptian beliefs. The museum has a lot of programs such as: how to read hieroglyphic letters, tools of writing, water management in ancient Egypt, Music with Sisstrum. I will never forget the children playing and coloring the game boards in ancient Egypt such as the snake and stairs. I had a great time to do the same drawings and paintings with the children as in the temple in ancient Egypt. I was really enjoying teaching them the construction of the temple, the functions, and the scenes of giving offering to the gods by the kings. Throughout my stay I have been involved in the meetings and discussions related to everything in the museum. I attended very important meetings with the director Dr. Sylvia Schoske, the museum staff and the technician team in order to provide the multimedia guide with new languages such as Arabic and Spanish to make it a helpful tool for the public.
Also, I assisted in the organization of the CIPEG conference "From Historism to Multimedia Age", an annual meeting held by ICOM in the beginning of September (September 1st – Friday, September 4th 2015). It promotes collaboration among colleagues for study, preservation, and presentation of Egyptian collections, monuments and sites.
I attended all the lectures of CIPEG. It was a great experience to meet curators of different museums from all over the world. I had the chance to participate in baking cookies in the form of pharaohs, pyramids, and mummies to present it to our lectures holders and all the attendants. Everybody appreciated it so much, it was a really great idea.
I had an interview with the journalist Astrid Mayerle of the Bayerischer Rundfunk (German radio station), about the Rave scholarship, the training course, and the benefits of my training interests in the museum.
In September, I had a chance to learn more about temporary exhibition preparations, the contracts used for renting the gallery for displaying temporary exhibitions and the conditions of renting it as loan. All that has been explained to me in a perfectly way by Dr. Arnulf Schlüter.
Besides that, I had the chance to attend "NAGA Day", which illustrated the NAGA project in Sudan and the excavations of the museum there. This day was rich of lectures presented by the project staff to announce the new results of the work season. The "NAGA Day" was also open to the public and we had all a satisfied feedback from the public.
In October, I had a wonderful and exciting time attending "Lange Nacht" or "long night", in this night one can visit all the museums in Munich with only one ticket.
The museum was well organized for this cultural event owing to the great co-operating among the museum staff. I had the chance to participate in the “Lange Nacht” by helping Roxane Becker and Sonia Focke in the museum education to welcome the children and their parents, who came to enjoy their time and learn "How to write names in Hieroglyphic letters". Then we joined the rest of the staff with director, Dr. Schoske, and the friends of the museum in order to help in preparing the delicious food for the visitors, who came to spend their night in the museum. Also, the museum had its own lectures, which were given by the director and some museum staff for the public.
I visited some museums in the Königsplatz area around smaek such as the Glyptothek München, Lenbachhaus, Museum Mensch und Natur and Deutsches Museum.
I really had a great time enjoying the celebrations and watching the variety of contents, especially in the Deutsches Museum.
According to being one of the museum staff, I had my own work of translation; I translated all the English introduction of all the galleries of the museum into the Arabic language to upload them on the Multimedia guide for more facilities to the Arab visitors to read it and to enjoy free tours inside the museum.
I studied also some objects related to my PhD topic. The museum staff helped me and allowed me to study and to take photos of these important objects.
The museum also offers a lot of activities such as giving lectures "Vorträge" each evening in the lectures room to the public by museum staff.
I saw the database in details of the museum and I learned how to use it.
By the end of October, I had done a presentation with the title "The curator work in the
Egyptian Museums in Egypt" to illustrate the effective tasks which are regularly done every day by the curators in the museums such as: The Egyptian Museum, The Coptic Museum, The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC). I also mentioned the important events of the first Egyptian revolution in 25th January 2011 for the Egyptian museum in Cairo, the temporary exhibitions before and after revolution, and the children museum workshops and activities, and the developing process of the projects of (GEM / NMEC), and the recent temporary exhibitions of Coptic Museum.
I did a report about "The interaction between the visitor, Multimedia guide, and the object in the Multimedia age" depending on observations and suggestions as evaluation of the three months I stayed in the museum observing the impressions and interactions of the public visitors in the museum through using the Multimedia stations of the museum.
The museum has a good ability in general of how to solve any sudden problems happening every day.
Suggestions and challenges:
I had a presentation in GEM in Egypt under the title " Designs, Exhibitions, and Activities of The Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (smaek), and the other Museums in Munich in the Multimedia Age" to transfer all my useful experience about what I learned during my training in Staatliche Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (smaek), to find suitable solutions for some cases here in the Grand Egyptian museum GEM project, and I was really satisfied of all nice feedback from all my colleagues and their true wish to change and move toward facing our challenges in the work.
I will also transfer all my experience to all my archaeologists colleagues in the Ministry of Antiquities by many presentations and workshops.
- The problem of housing was very complicated in Munich, so I recommended this
Active museum later to rent housing rooms for its own to facilitate receiving any Scholar anytime in the next years.
- Regarding to regular facilities and support of Rave Scholarship, they supported me to study two levels (A2.1- A2.2) of Deutsch course in Deutsch Akademie in Karlsplatz area in Munich. It was very useful to me to learn and practice at the same time in Germany.
- Regarding to the lifestyle in Germany, it is faster than in Egypt, but it was easy to go anywhere in Munich by maps. I visited the most famous places there such as: English Garden, BMW museum, and Olympia Park with its new exhibition of the tomb andcollection of the golden pharaoh Tutanchamun. I had enjoyed a lot in October feast, it was an amazing time to know the traditional feast celebrations of bier, and I have been to Effeldorf in the countryside of Bavaria, Starnbergersee, Albs mountains of Zugspitze 2962m the top of Germany, Nymphenburg Schloss, Herrenchiemsee, and the final one was Chiemsee.
I am really satisfied with the experience I had from Rave scholarship, and from the
Staatliche Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (smaek). Thank you all.
Heba Khalil, August – Oktober 2015, Staatl. Museum Ägyptischer Kunst, München