The museum began in 2003 as a competition launched by the Egyptian government for the design of a new museum complex to house its ancient treasures. The winner, Irish firm Heneghan Peng Architects, developed a very modern design for the newly named Grand Egyptian Museum. They began construction in 2005, but according to Architectural Digest, the construction was plagued by a number of setbacks: the financial crisis of 2008, the Arab Spring in 2011, and COVID-19. The museum's deadline for completion was thus pushed further from its original schedule.
Opening a museum near the only surviving wonder of the ancient world will help to bridge the ancient with the modern, in an attempt to increase tourism by making the artifacts more accessible. Egypt is working overtime to work through its tourism issue, which according to Reuters, has had a fallout in recent weeks from the Israel-Hamas war, with travelers canceling or postponing holidays to the Middle East and North Africa.
But in an interview with CNN, Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Ahmed Issa, argued that because Egypt is geographically far away from the conflict, they are still seeing many tourists come in. Issa has been working with Egypt’s Finance Secretary to incentivize hotels to offer more packages to bring in more tourists. Their goal is 30 million tourists per year.
Issa then pointed to the Grand Egyptian Museum, which he believes will help get them to their goal. “Within the next couple of months," he said, "we might be able to get some tourists in for a soft opening." The official opening date, for now, according to Issa is between February and May of 2024.