The Asahi Shimbun Displays
The past is present
becoming Egyptian in the 20th century

24 May – 22 July 2018


The Asahi Shimbun Displays 

Supported by

Metal emblem of Banque Misr. Cairo, Egypt, 1960s.

This display features a broad selection of objects from 20th-century Egypt. Together, they explore the ways in which ancient Egypt has provided inspiration for modern Egypt to brand itself through everyday goods.

The display focuses on the emblem of Banque Misr (Bank of Egypt), established in 1920 as the first bank owned and managed by Egyptians. The bank was founded immediately after the 1919 Revolution against British occupation. The emblem includes a depiction of Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt, and lotus flowers, symbols of rebirth. Other objects in the display further illustrate this connection between national economy, ancient imagery, and the construction of modern identity. They include a milk bottle with the same logo as the bank, magazines, cigarette packages, a banknote, and a vinyl record.

These newly acquired objects are displayed together for the first time to illustrate the complex ways that ancient heritage was reclaimed and integrated into the everyday life of a society that was both modernising and confronting immense political change.

The show also includes a video artwork, Domestic Tourism II, by contemporary Egyptian artist Maha Maamoun (b. 1972), which splices together scenes from Egyptian cinema shot in the vicinity of the pyramids of Giza. The work explores how these iconic monuments can be reclaimed from a stereotypical picture-postcard view and reinscribed into Egypt's complex political, social, and historical narratives.

The Modern Egypt Project, launched at the British Museum in 2016, considers how our modern world can be represented through material things and preserved for future audiences – find out more about the project here.

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