The Egyptian government established the 'Service des Antiques de l' Egypte' in 1835 mainly to halt the plundering of archaeological sites and to arrange the exhibition of the collected artifacts owned by the government. The Azbakiah garden in Cairo was first used as a storage place for these artifacts. The collection was later transferred to another building in the Citadel. In 1858, a museum was prepared at Boulaq, its contents collected by the French archeologist August Mariette. In 1880, the contents of the Boulaq museum were transferred to an annex of the Giza palace of Ismail Pasha, the ruler of Egypt.
The present museum was built in 1900, in the neo-classical style by the French architect Marcel Dourgnon.
This museum exhibits over 120 000 objects. Some of the important groups of these objects are:
- The mummies of some Pharaohs of the 18 to 20th Dynasty found in Thebes. The first group was found in Deir el Bahari cachette and these consist of the mummies of Seqenenre, Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Tuthmosis I, Tuthmosis II, Tuthmosis III, Seti I, Ramsis II, Ramsis III. The other group was found in the tomb of Amenhotep II, consisting of the mummies of: Amenhotep II, Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III, Merenptah, Seti II, Siptah, Ramsis IV, Ramsis V, Ramsis VI, (& three women and a child.)
- Artifacts from the tombs of kings and members of the royal families of the of the Middle Kingdom found at Dahshur in 1894.
- The contents of the royal tombs of Tuthmosis III, Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III and Horemheb and the tomb of Yuya and Thuya.
- Artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamon, consisting of more than 3500 pieces, of which 1700 objects are displayed in the museum(; the rest are in storerooms).
- Objects from some royal and private tombs at Tanis (in the Delta) dating from the 21st and 22nd Dynasties.
- Artifacts from the Amarna Period made for Akhenaten and members of his family and some high officials. These were found in Tell el Amarna, Hermopolis, Thebes and Memphis between 1912 and 1933.
- Collections of artifacts from the royal palaces.
Part of the collection of the Museum