I have spent a lot of time in Cairo looking for old museums to visit: Agricultural, Postal, Medical, Ethnographic, etc. However, one that has always eluded me is the Entomological museum, housed in this building on Ramses Street, near the Gamal Abdel Nasser Metro station. I have been inside the building a few times but always found the upper floors, that house the museum, closed. So I was very happy when I found this 1930s pictoral guide to the Society of Entomology.
The society was founded in 1907 to promote the study of insects in Egypt. It’s members were primarily European and included the prominent Italian entomologists Giovanni Ferrante and Anastase Alfieri and the Brits Walter Innes and Franck Wilcox, among many others. However, the Egyptian Hassan Chaker Efflatoun, was also a leading member the society. Efflatoun’s daughter (or, as Hussein Omar has suggested, possibly niece), Inji, later went on to become one of the foremost modern artists in the country. Other Egyptians on the society’s membership list included Fouad Abaza, Adolphe Cattaui, Mustapha Maher Pasha, Solomon Mezrahi, Boghos Nubar Pasha and Dr Mohammed Shahin Pasha.
The appeal of this book, though, was that I would have a chance to see what lay behind the door I had never been able to access.
First was the hall, that I had a faint memory of seeing:
Then there were pictures of the Entolomogy Museum, including a room dedication to the collection of Giovanni Ferrante (unfortunately the insects don’t seem to be on display):
Beyond the museum, there is much more inside the society: Labs, a library and a conference hall, for instance:
Most interesting of all is the fact that, as well as the entomological collection, the building also housed a collection of stuffed birds, donated by King Fouad I. I don’t know if they are still there or have been moved:
Hopefully, next time I go back to Cairo the museum will be open. Until then, we have these pictures.
For anyone interested in finding out more. The bulletins of the society up to 1923 are available here: