I am a lover of the bizarre, the strange, and the random. This is one of the reasons I love exploring Egypt. From a men’s clothing shop called “Newborn” to the Pizza Hut with a view of the Pyramids of Giza, there is randomness in abundance.
My most recent find, the Marine Museum in Alexandria, is one of the best so far, and only 15 minutes away from where I live (on a Friday morning with no traffic).
My friend and I were taking our kids towards the entrance of the Qaitbay fortress when the two children were drawn into the museum like moths to brightly coloured displays of marine life. After trying unsuccessfully to coax them out, we decided to shell out (pun intended) the 20LE (less than $2) cost of tickets for the four of us. And oh my, I’m glad we did.
An enormous skeleton of a marine animal takes up the entire length of the museum. We stared at it in wonder. With no obvious signage in view we were forced to speculate. Could it be a plesiosaurus? a whale? a prehistoric beast of some kind? We eventually discovered it was a Fin Whale, apparently found in the 40s. Now it is the centrepiece of the Marine Museum, carefully put together with what looks like plastic cable zip ties. We did find a sign which, being mostly Arabic, just raised more questions. If anyone can read this, I would love to know what this says!
One of the most bizarre displays was a set of anatomically correct sea cows. One sign read “male” sea cow, I’m not sure why the word male was in quotation marks as it was very obviously a male, perhaps a bit aroused by the female sea cow across the corridor, who also had obvious “female” parts but was labeled as a mermaid. Ironically, the word mermaid was not in quotations. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about my completely oblivious son seeing any inappropriate sea cow displays. He was too concerned with bouncing from display to display to actually take anything in.
Many displays looked like models of creatures, some looked like taxidermy work and some were real bones and shells. One display had shelves of strange creatures preserved in jars, similar to what you might see in and underwater lair of villain in a superhero movie.
The kids got the biggest giggle from a display where the main figure of a diver appears to have fallen over. There were many jokes about how he’d gone diving and fallen asleep, or given up on life, or been frozen into stone by an underwater medusa.
It does look like a lot of work has gone into this museum, and the historic surroundings certainly added to the ambiance. Now that I’ve toured the displays at the lightning pace of children I plan to go back and stay longer, maybe even read some of the information posted.
If you are visiting Alexandria, I would highly recommend this museum. It’s right in the citadel of Qaitbay, you can’t miss it!