I don’t know enough about Egyptian politics to comment intelligently, but I have been keeping my eye on the welfare of  museums and cultural heritage during this uprising.  And the news has been generally good. In Alexandria, the library was protected by groups of organized youth, as the director of the Biblioteca Alexandrina, Ismail Serageldin, said in two recent statements. In Cairo, thousands formed a human shield to protect the National Museum, which is located next to the national party headquarters, which was set on fire in the early days of the protests.  Some theft and damage did occur at this important museum of antiquities–but conservator Dan Cull has suggested that these seem to be from organized criminal activity rather than looting.  As Dan says:

It’s important for us to show solidarity, but not just with those who are professionally trained to work on material culture, we must show solidarity with all those who struggle so that the material culture will have meaning in the new world they are creating….

And perhaps most of all we should be deeply inspired that ordinary Egyptian people felt strongly enough about their cultural heritage and cultural institutions that they should come out unarmed to protect them against criminal gangs… whilst just next door the political institutions burned.

Do consider donating to the Blue Shield, whose mission is to protect cultural property during armed conflict.

Back at home, a heritage win:  last week, Walmart announced they would not build a store on the site of Wilderness battlefield.  Our Magpie offers her perspective as a historian and a local.

About these ads