The Plans For Egypt's Underwater Museum
The city of Alexandria in Egypt already has a beautiful modern Library but the plans for an underwater museum are even more ambition. Alexandria, one of the great centers of learning in the ancient world, was hit by an tsunami in the year 365. Subsequent earthquake susbsidence meant that many of the city's greatest archaeological treasures are under water. Since 1994 excavations by divers have revealed sphinxes, granite blocks and what are believed to be pieces of the Pharos of Alexandria lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The plans for the new museum designed by architect Jacques Rougerie call for an immersed fiberglass tunnel that would allow a dry place to view underwater monuments. The museum comes with a hefty price tag. it could cost up to $140 million. The Egyptian government has hoped that private organizations and companies might be willing to finance the operation. The goal, according to the Guardian, is to have construction start at the beginning of next year. Given the global economy and the general malaise when it comes to massively ambitious building projects currently, this seems like a lofty goal. And even if the money does miraculously appear the museum's builders will face all sorts of challenges including how to secure good viewing spots in the tunnel and keep the tunnel safe and dry.
Egypt has long sought to find a way to bring more tourists to Alexandria. The beautiful Bibliotheca Alexandrina attracts some visitors but the library on its own does not have the same pull that a library and a museum might. But some have already complained about the funds used to maintain the library and so money for a new building project seems extravagant especially when it could be used for social programs and for maintaining some of the city's existing structures.