The Manuscript Museum (MsM) is one of the academic institutions affiliated to the Library of Alexandria according to Law No. 1 for the year 2001(Article 2) concerning the Library of Alexandria, and according to the presidential decree (no. 269) concerning its establishment. The MsM operates through a number of integrated sections, which work tunefully with the ones in the twin institution; the Manuscript Center (MsC). To harmonize the work flow and fulfill set tasks, units and operations were merged across both institutions into three highly specialized sections in each. Thus, the MsM currently houses the following sections:
Rare Collections Section
Rare collections cover all remarkable, unique items within the BA's holdings including: original manuscripts, early printed books, maps, antique coins, celebrities' personal effects, exceptional donations presented to the Library, momentous documents and other rarities distinguished for their distinctiveness, artistry or historical importance. The section houses a number of units and specialized work groups. First, the Rare Holdings Unit houses a large collection of commemorative coins, maps, personal effects, stamps collections as well as significant documents. Second, the Manuscripts Unit safeguards all original manuscript collections, the most important among them is the Alexandria Municipality's Collection, in addition to a host of printed referential sources on heritage. Third, the Special Collections Unit holds a number of donated personal libraries of towering figures. These collections owe their weight to the importance of their donors or original owners.
The Section also includes two reading rooms dedicated to researchers and postgraduate students. The first (B1) houses thousands of original manuscripts as well as printed references on heritage. The second room is allocated for rare books and special collections.
Microform is a felicitous medium for the preservation of rare manuscripts, printed materials and documents against potential loss or damage resulting from excessive circulation and age, not to mention increasing their accessibility and circulation without direct contact with the originals.
The BA obtained microfilms of rare manuscripts and documents (c. 30 thousand Mss, and 50 thousand documents), significant among which are the microfilms of the manuscript collections in the Escorial Library as well as the manuscript collections of Tűbingen University (Germany).
The British Library presented the BA with an exhaustive collection of copies of the Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts in the British Library numbering 14,000. It is considered the biggest collection in Europe, and the largest manuscript donation to the BA to date.
The Section also comprises comprehensive and exclusive collections of national and Arabic newspapers, serving as a historical register of important events, as well as rare documents. All microform collections are now available for consultation in the Microfilm Reading Room.
Museographic Display Section
The Section consists of two work teams: the Exhibition Gallery group and the Traveling Exhibition group.
The Gallery is located in B1, in the heart of the Library. The visitors can review the electronic publications of the Manuscript Center (MsC) prepared using state-of-the-art digital techniques, such as the Virtual Reality Browser, selections from the Digital Manuscript Library and others that run on touch-screen computers. The only surviving vestige from the ancient Library of Alexandria is also on display. A digital copy of the old Greek papyrus held at the Austrian National Library (Vienna) is available on a special browser, prepared by the MsC, which has recently made facsimile reproductions of the papyrus.
As to the Traveling Exhibition group's displays, panels and assorted components, they are tailored to be easily rebuilt according to different occasions and events. The group initiated its activities in the BA's pavilion at the Frankfurt International Book Fair, October 2004.Back to list