Cairo, land of sands, myths, legends and bustling markets. Whether you take a ride through the narrow streets stuffed with heavy traffic or slink down a back alley into a cafe, the intoxicating mayhem masks a city of deep-seated history and hidden gems. The Culture Trip delves into the city’s tantalising culture scene and unveils 10 of the finest contemporary art galleries and museums in Egypt’s historic capital city.
This contemporary art gallery hosts differing exhibitions each month, showcasing the work of the most renowned and exclusive artists in Cairo and beyond. There is a permanent collection of work inside the Gallery, courtesy of established Egyptian artists and up-and-coming young talent. There is also a spacious exhibitor area, creating ample opportunity for both visitors to appreciate the works on display. Zamalek Art Gallery is located in the trendy Zamalek area of the city, a cultural hub. The Gallery has been involved with many notable projects, including the extensive six-month art festival commemorating 100 years of the Aswan Old Cataract Hotel in 1999-2000.
The original opera house that stood on this spot was commissioned in 1869, a beautifully neoclassic masterpiece, which unfortunately burned to the ground in 1971. The Royal Opera House of today has become known as a cultural landmark and is a popular centre for exercising creativity and imagination. The Cairo Opera House offers some of the finest productions of ballet, opera and symphonies in Egypt. Talented young individuals from across the country study and develop their talents, giving breathtaking performances to audiences on a regular basis. Visitors can enjoy music and gallery images as well as the charming opera museum.
This gallery in downtown Cairo is host to a collection of contemporary fine art. The Townhouse Gallery was established in 1998 and, as the first independent art space in the country, its goal was to bring contemporary art to the general populace while encouraging creativity among new and existing artists. The Townhouse works on a non-profit basis and assists in raising the profile of gifted artists by hosting exhibitions, educational platforms and outreach programmes. The Gallery works tirelessly to forge strong relationships both nationally and internationally to build greater levels of creativity and an appreciation, growth and understanding of contemporary art in Egypt and the Middle East.
Townhouse Gallery, 10 Nabrawy Street, Champollion Street, Downtown, Cairo, Egypt, +20 2 576 80 86
A relative newcomer to Cairo, the impressive Al Masar Gallery opened in late 2008. This stylish venue showcases the work of renowned Egyptian artists, the ‘stars of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation of the 20th Century Egyptian Art Movement’. The Gallery puts a focus on vibrancy and uniqueness both in the works shown and in the gallery’s historic location of the Baehler Mansion. The Gallery defines itself as ‘both the path and the trace as a cultural nexus of exhibitions and documentation to define the genuine value of modern and contemporary Egyptian art.’
In its newest gallery space, The Art Lounge, which opened in 2012 and is located next to the original gallery, works by prominent artists such as Kareem Al Qurity and Sami aboul Azm are displayed, firmly placing Al Masar Gallery at the very forefront of the contemporary art scene in Egypt.
Al Masar Gallery, 157 b. 26 July Street, Ground Floor, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt, + 20 2 736 85 37
The idea of collecting and collating modern Egyptian artwork goes all the way back to 1925; and by 1931, a collection had been gathered at the Mousiri Palace courtesy of a joint effort between Egyptian and foreign artists, and the Ministry of Education. After outgrowing the exhibition space, the collection moved several times until settling in the Gezira Center for Modern Art in 1986, overseen by the Ministry of Culture. The collection includes a vast number of artistic pieces that accumulated over time by the Egyptian royal family. Visitors can also visit the adjacent National Museum of Egyptian Civilization which contains numerous displays from ancient Egypt, right through to the present day. Part of Cairo’s main cultural centre is based here, on Gezira Island.
Gezira Center for Modern Art, Gezira Island, Cairo, Egypt
A non-profit organisation in operation since 2008, the Darb 1718 Contemporary Art and Culture Centre has indoor and outdoor areas that can hold different art displays and cultural events. There are two exhibition areas, plus stages and an outdoor cinema area for film screenings. Visitors can enjoy a number of exhibitions, concerts, festivals and events from national and international artists. There is also a variety of performance workshops being regularly held, giving emerging artists the chance to exhibit exciting new works alongside more established artists.
This gallery hosts an interesting collection of contemporary art pieces and is the home of a large number of exciting, regular exhibitions covering all aspects of life. From new interpretations of the locomotive to the human body, clowns laughing/crying or visionary ideas of past, present and future Egypt, there is a variety of collections here that will cater to all tastes and pique the interests of visitors. This summer at Picasso, visitors can expect a series of Egypt-focused exhibitions looking at contemporary artists from the country. There is also a permanent collection featuring an eclectic mix of ancient and contemporary art
Picasso, 30 Hassen Asse Street, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt, +20 2 736 75 44
The Karim Francis Gallery helped to establish the Al-Nitaq, Cairo’s first independent arts festival. This fascinating event includes an intriguing selection of poetry, film, music and theatre productions. The event encapsulates the cultural scene of the city and brings art to the streets of the downtown area, taking it to cafes, restaurants, alleys and lanes, shops and apartments and hotel and office lobbies, all to promote contemporary art within the city. The Gallery was founded in 1995 and helped increase the rate and awareness of contemporary art within the city. Visitors can enjoy a host of painting and sculptures at this special venue.
1 El Sherifein Street, 3rd right off Qasr El Nil Street, Cairo, Egypt, +20 2 391 63 57
This small, stylish gallery is located in cultural centre Zamalek, a romantic area of Cairo. Former exhibitions of interest include the works of Branka Ridicki, a Croatian artist who currently resides in Sri Lanka. Her paintings have no doubt been inspired by her numerous travels around the globe, and she has been part of both solo and group exhibitions during her career so far.
Khan El Maghraby, 18 El Mansour Mohamed Street, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt, +20 2 340 33 49
The Mahmoud Mokhtar Museum, launched in 2006, is home to a vast array of events, from exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, to outdoor garden theatre and poetry recitals. There is also an extensive collection of contemporary art on show. Twice a year, visitors can let loose their inner creative self and unleash their talents on a special graffiti wall in the expressive Graffiti Festival. The centre was named after the renowned sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar, who died in 1934 but whose work continues to charm and enchant visitors and artists to this day.
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