A Gem in the Desert
Located in Egypt's Eastern Desert 334 km southeast of Cairo, this museum is within a Coptic Orthodox monastery, founded in the 4th Century AD by the followers of Saint Anthony.
In the 1990s, conservation work was done to preserve the historic buildings at the heart of the monastery as well as the beautiful 13th century wall paintings. In addition, this museum was created to preserve and display remnants of the monastery's rich past.
Bringing the Past to the Present
One of the monastery's residents, Father Maximous, had a vision to create a gallery to display historical artifacts belonging to the monastery and present them to pilgrims and visitors.
A Modern Monastery
This building, inside the walls of the monastery, was originally a guest house for visitors, but was adapted to house the gallery and act as a facility for conservation and storage.
One of the themes of the exhibits is liturgical life, including objects used in communal church services , as well as private devotion practices. Icons, candles and lamps, chalices and spoons, patens, censors, processional and hand crosses, and vestments are on display.
The icons in the first display are religious artworks, often small and portable paintings, depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints, and scenes of Biblical narratives and celebratory feasts.
Daily Life of the Monks
This side displays everyday objects used by the monks for activities like woodwork, book-binding, making of manuscripts, manufacturing baskets and mats from palm leaves and reeds, gardening and food preparation, water management...
...as well as seasonal tasks such as wine and oil production...
The project in the Monastery of St. Anthony at the Red Sea was sponsored by American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
Created by Tessa Litecky, ARCE
Visit ARCE at www.arce.org