Opened in June 2009, Take Me There:® Egypt was the first in a series of immersive exhibits focusing on the culture of a single foreign country, with the gallery changing approximately every four years. All exhibits take place in the Take Me There gallery on Level 2.
The result of three years of planning and development that included multiple trips to Egypt by museum staff to gather artifacts, take photographs, record video, and tour mosques, museums, marketplaces, archaeological digs, and ordinary homes and apartments, Take Me There: Egypt immersed visitors in the experience of daily life in one of the world’s most fascinating countries.
After a two-minute flight (rather than the actual 13 hours) aboard an EgyptAir jet, visitors found themselves in a city much like Cairo, minus the noisy bumper-to-bumper traffic. (Although visitors could take a ride aboard one of Cairo’s small taxi-like vehicles called tuk-tuks. Video shot by a museum staff member from an actual tuk-tuk ride simulated a journey through Cairo’s streets.)
Wandering through the exhibit children and families explored an urban home and one in a rural village, and strolled through a souk (marketplace) where they could visit a coffeehouse, fruit stand/grocery store, clothing store, and an herbalist. They could also design bracelets using Egyptian motifs, learn to say Arabic words, and try their hands at calligraphy.
One of the exhibit’s popular attractions was the cultural immersion program Play a Part: The Sebou. A sebou is a traditional Egyptian ceremony to welcome a newborn into the community. Held seven days after birth, a sebou involves dressing in traditional clothing called galabeyas, creating gifts for the baby, and decorating the family home—all of which visitors did in a 45-minute immersive program that was typically filled to capacity.
Contemporary Egypt is a study in contrasts; it is a combination of ancient traditions (camels and donkeys are widely used as beasts of burden) and modern practices (cell phones and satellite dishes are everywhere). With Take Me There: Egypt the museum provided visitors with a chance to learn how ordinary Egyptians live on a daily basis.
After four years in operation Take Me There: Egypt closed on Aug. 11, 2013, to make way for the next exhibit in the series, Take Me There:® China, which opened May 10, 2014. The cost of this project was $8 million, including $3 million to produce Take Me There: Egypt and a $5 million gallery.
The Take Me There® gallery was made possible by many generous donors. Learn more about the museum’s transformational donors.