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Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in shambles

The theft of van Gogh’s Poppy Flowers from the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum exposed the poor security conditions in Egyptian museums.

The painting, finished by van Gogh in 1886, was stolen in broad daylight.

The museum, which opened in 1995, is slated to close for interior restorations. The deteriorating conditions inside stand in contrast to what is considered highly elegant outside architecture. The museum is also criticized for lacking basic security requirements.

On the right side of the museum's entrance there is a “haunted” library, rarely visited despite the valuable books it contains. The library, however, does not contain a single book about Khalil, the sponsor of the 1920s arts movement, himself. Khalil left the museum, formerly a palace and then an executive office under Sadat, a legacy of selected works by the most prominent artists in the world.

Inside the museum, there are more labels reading “Do Not Touch” and “No Photography” than there are signs explaining the works of art themselves.

“I’m the only one who speaks English here,” said curator Mahmoud Metwali. The museum staff, he added, receives very low salaries.

“Nor do we have an Electronic Audio Guide system like other museums elsewhere,” Metwali complained.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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