Largest Islamic art museum reopens after 8 years

The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo has opened for previews after a $10-million US, eight-year restoration.

Cairo museum renovation cost $10 million US

The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, the world's largest, opened Saturday for previews after an eight-year restoration costing about $10 million US.

The museum, with 2,500 artifacts on view, was officially reopened at a ceremony presided over by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Media and dignitaries were allowed in for a preview, but the public will have to wait until September to experience the museum's 25 galleries. 

The museum in central Cairo was built in 1903 to protect the country's valuable objects from looters. It still has almost 100,000 items in storage.

Among the treasures on display are a gold-inlaid key to the Kaaba, the building that houses the sacred black stone in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.

There are rare manuscripts of the Qur'an, ceramics from the Ottoman era as well as ancient instruments used in architecture, astronomy and chemistry.

The opening of the museum on Saturday came on the first week of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.