Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art

After the Gayer-Anderson Museum, we visited Cairo‘s Museum of Islamic Art, “considered one of the greatest in the world, with its exceptional collection of rare woodwork and plaster artefacts (sic), as well as metal, ceramic, glass, crystal, and textile objects of all periods, from all over the Islamic world.” As expected, the Islamic art focused on geometric and vegetal patterns and Arabic calligraphy.

The museum reopened in January 2017 after “a car bomb attack targeting the Cairo police headquarters on the other side of the street caused considerable damage to the museum and destroyed many artifacts” three years before. We noticed that the police headquarters has a curved blast wall that directs any blast away from the police building and toward the museum.

Inside, there were few visitors on a weekday afternoon, and the museum was excellent.

Museum of Islamic Art

This post is organized by media type. You’ll see Islamic-art patterns and calligraphy across the media.


A wooden ceiling with mocárabe (complex array of vertical prisms resembling stalactites) and patterns.

carved wooden ceiling

This 10th C wooden door from Egypt has geometric patterns of ivory, ebony, and bone.

10th C wooden door with ivory, ebony and bone


This candlestick was made for the Mosque of the Prophet Mohammed in Medina as part of its reconstruction after a fire. This reconstruction was funded by the Mamluk sultan Qaitbay. Born near the Black Sea and sold into slavery in Egypt, Qaitbay was freed, and he ruled Egypt for 26 years.

candlestick made for the Mosque of the Prophet Mohammed in Medina (15th C)

This 15th C astrolabe is used to determine latitude, needed for navigation and to determine the direction of Mecca when building a mosque.

15th C astrolabe


The opening photo shows 16th C ceramic tiles from Iznik, Turkey. The tiles are decorated with vines and lotus flowers.

This glazed mihrab from 14th C Iran has vegetal patterns and calligraphy.

glazed ceramic mihrab, 14th C Iran


This fountain has varying geometric patterns of stone radiating from the center.

fountain of mosaic


Many Arab countries are renowned for their carpets. This 18th C wool and cotton carpet from Iran has patterns of vines and flowers.

carpet of wool pile and cotton, 18th C Iran


Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art has excellent displays of Islamic Art, showing patterns and calligraphy across many media types.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

4 thoughts on “Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art”

    1. Thank you. Yes, this museum was a highlight of our trip; it’s a shame so few people visit it. We read about the museum in a guidebook. We loved the Islamic art at Doris Duke’s home in Hawaii and the Louvre, so we really wanted to see this museum.
      Our Egypt-Jordan tour didn’t include this museum, so we went to Cairo three days early to cover attractions the tour would miss or gloss over. We found a Cairo tour company over the internet, but their standard tours didn’t include this museum. We negotiated a custom 2-day tour that included this museum and mosques from Islamic Cairo. Our guide hadn’t visited this museum since he was a child, but the English signs in the museum were quite good.

      Liked by 2 people

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