The Child Museum
Science, technology, imagination, truth in the past, present and future; all interact to create a wonderful world for the Egyptian child, namely, the Child Museum.
It is an edifice that appeals to a child's intelligence and inquisitive nature, allowing interaction with what he sees in full freedom. Children at this museum are able to deal with high technology and modern methods to enrich their knowledge and imagination.
Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, the patron of Egyptian children, was the first to express the wish to establish a museum for children that ushers them into an attractive world where they are encouraged to observe, get acquainted with and discover everything new and by comparison and touch - try to find for themselves the answers to their questions.
The aim of establishing a child museum is to make the child feel his/her absolute importance.
Since 1985, for over ten years, specialized working groups of Egyptian and world experts in fields of science, technology, physics, history, geography, civilization, geology, architecture, engineering and arts of exhibitions have all exerted concerted efforts to create a distinguished and unique museum for the Egyptian child.
The Child Museum has an activity centre occupying the southern pavilion behind the Museum.
The "Discovery Hall" is one section of the Activity Center. It comprises many boxes in which a child discovers contents and tries to identify them as different elements from the environment he has seen in the main building, such as precious stones, fossils and shells.
The "Handicrafts and Arts Hall" is located in the pavilion to the right of the Discovery Hall.
It displays all the necessary equipment for a child to practice various hobbies and arts, such as drawing on wood or leather with paint and water colours, weaving on carpet looms, or painting on glass and cardboard. Here children can freely practice their hobbies and creative skills.
The "Know yourself" division houses skeletons and the internal human body parts, so that a child may get acquainted with them by dismantling and rebuilding them once again.
The "Information Hall" comprises a great number of books, video and cassette tapes, pictures, slides, and multimedia CD-ROMs.
It helps a young researcher to teach himself all fields of knowledge such as history, geography, anthropology, environment, nature study and science.
Periodical meetings are held in this hall where children, parents and teachers meet to exchange views on matters dealing with education development.
The Child Museum and its annexes lie in the forest park in Heliopolis, Cairo. The park covers an area of about 13.5 feddans of various plants and trees, which bear labels indicating their names and species so that the child can acquire knowledge of nature as he walks through it.
The main building of the museum is in the centre of the park and is made up of four divisions, each of which narrates the story of an epoch or geographical environment.
The tour begins by viewing nine television screens showing Egyptian children dressed in fashions of various regions, in addition to images of each of these environments. The children are thrilled to see their own images as part of the show by means of a closed television circuit system.
The Pharaonic civilization explains to the child how the Ancient Egyptian dealt with the River Nile, silt, plants, rocks and minerals, and how he made his clothes, food and houses.
The various devices of irrigation are displayed, and a child can see each one of them by pressing a button.
The process of spinning, weaving and garment manufacture from plant fibres are also on show. There are audio-visual aids that explain to a child the story of writing, the invention of dyes and colours, the hieroglyphic alphabet as compared to that of Arabic, as well as the methods followed by the French in deciphering the Rosetta Stone inscriptions 200 years ago.
Other displays acquaint the child with Ancient Egyptian skills in ship-building. The main building has a hall in which a stone building is exhibited.
By a press-button system, a child can see a mechanical movement of the Pyramid by which it is segmented to reveal its inner passages and rooms. The various kinds of stones, methods of cutting and leveling are also viewed on the screen.
The River Nile Hall:
In this hall children watch a video tape of pictures of the course of the Nile from its different sources to its mouth, accompanied by a dialogue among children wearing the costumes of the various regions of the Nile Valley. They also see images of the animals and plants of every area of Egypt.
This hall exhibits three communities: the source of the Nile inhabitants; Nubia region; and the countryside in Upper and Lower Egypt. The video tape plays songs and music characterising peoples of the Nile.
The Hall of Deserts:
Here a child gets acquainted with Egyptian deserts, their resources, their plants and animals, and how those are adapted to severe hot climates and scarcity of water.
By merely touching a picture of any animal on an electronic screen, a child can see a short film of his choice.
He can also see films on the desert minerals, precious stones and sources of energy, and listen to a dialogue among the three Egyptian deserts: the eastern, the western and Sinai. The dialogue explains dunes and formations, as well as dangers that might meet a desert visitor.
The Red Sea Hall:
This exhibits the different environments of the Red Sea, whether in the coastal areas or deep under the sea, where a child tours the different depths in a submarine to see the beautiful coral reefs and colourful fish.
The show explains the sources of pollution and the damage it incurs on marine life, urging children to protect the environment.
The Museum Park:
The park surrounding the Museum is rich in numerous plants and trees carrying labels of information on every species for a child to read and compare as he tours the park. He can then try to draw what he observed with the help of the tour leader.
Children are provided with the opportunity to watch the birds in the park picking their food from the ground and compare their beaks, feathers and claws. They can also observe the birds' nests using binoculars.
Children watch the colourful butterflies in flower beds and try to draw the ones they like best. The tour instructor helps children to keep suitable distances away from butterflies and other insects, so as not to disturb them.
By means of magnifying glasses children are taught how to observe the behaviour of ants, bees and other insects.
The second floor of the Museum has a full-size statue of Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak holding an open book and addressing the children of Egypt.
The message delivered in her voice urges children to read and enrich their knowledge by having a library in every Egyptian home. Children stand in front of "Mama Suzanne" listening to her advice.
The statue, which has the library as a background, was presented to Mrs. Mubarak from the British Museum for her work as the patron of childhood in Egypt.
The British Museum has taken part in and supervised the establishment of the Child Museum.