The Ministry of Artistic Affairs
Monday, January 31, 2011

In a shocking development of the ongoing revolution in Egypt, the former director of the Egyptian Museum, Wafaa el-Saddik, in an interview published on German publication Zeit Online, has said that the individuals responsible for the looting at the National Museum included the institution’s own guards and that the Memphis Museum in Memphis, Egypt, has been completely looted.

In the interview, El-Saddik said "those were the guardians of the National Museum, our own people. A second group of offenders then entered from the back of a fire escape through the skylight. The destruction was on the first floor, where there is also the treasure of Tutankhamun.

"The Museum in Memphis was robbed on Saturday morning completely. The leaders there have called me in desperation and prayed, “Save us, do something.” I first called the police, but they did not respond. I then alerted an Army General I know but it was too late. I was on the phone with the museums in Luxor and Aswan but so far there is nothing happening. The biggest problem is the lack of protection of our museums at all. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo and all museums in Egypt are not insured. I have asked for many years that they be properly insured and secured – without any success."

When asked why she believes the guards, who protect some of the most valuable objects in our global heritage, did it, El-Saddik explained that "they are paid very poorly. I wrote to the government and asked for more money for these people. A security guard earns about 250 Egyptian pounds, or 35€ a month. We have about 160 security guards plus several dozen police officers who are basically conscripts in police uniforms. These policemen earn even less."

The Memphis Museum is a small institution roughly 24 km south of Cairo dominated by a colossal limestone statue of Rameses II. There is also a sculpture garden and other smaller objects at the Museum. The extent of the looting is not currently known, nor whether the looters were able to steal major objects or simply those in display cases and other more portable items.

Via Hyperallergic and Zeit Online.