Museum of Agriculture

From the time of the pharaohs to the present, agriculture has played an essential role in Egyptian history.
In 1930, during the period of King Farouk, the Egyptian government decided to establish the Agricultural Museum, as a historical and scientific museum (botanical, agricultural and economic) to trace the history of agriculture in the country, from prehistory to modern times.
Today the Museum of Agriculture is located in the renowned district of Dokki in the city of Cairo. Like a citadel, it is surrounded by walls and consists of a set of palaces and exhibition halls spread over a large botanical park.
The ancient palace of Princess Fatma, daughter of Khedive Ismail, was selected and adapted to accommodate the heart of the museum. Opened on January 16, 1938, this was the first museum of agriculture in all the world. The facade of the old palace was adorned with reliefs of plants and animals.
When the main museum had been completed, over the years other buildings and exhibition halls were built, all designed in the style of the original building.
The gardens of the museum extend for about 125,000 square meters, while the museum buildings occupy 20,000 square meters. The park is also a botanical garden, with palm trees, flowers, rare plants and greenhouses. The facilities include a movie theatre, a conference room, a library, as well as workshops and sheds for repair, maintenance, embalming, preservation and storage. Some exhibition halls are open to the public, while others are closed for maintenance; others are still under construction or are being fitted out.

One of the most curious halls is the Museum of Bread. On display are old photos, agricultural tools, ovens and systems for bread baking, models of workshops and a collection of all kinds of Egyptian bread from various regions of the country.

The museum dedicated to field crops exhibits samples of wheat, oil seeds, pulses, sugar crops and fiber, fruits and vegetables, medicinal and aromatic plants and some types of trees.
It shows the scientific methods used to increase extensive cultivation, techniques to improve seeds and protection against insects and parasites.
At the same time it provides a photographic history of agricultural life in Egypt: from the creation of ceramic and glass food containers to the farmers' market, from the typical diseases in the countryside to traditional remedies, from land reclamation projects to irrigation methods.

An entire hall is dedicated to animal rearing, another has collections of stuffed native birds in their natural habitats, yet another a collection of insects.

The Museum of Ancient Egyptian Agriculture, opening soon, will trace the agricultural history of Egypt from prehistoric times to the end of the Pharaonic period. The first floor will exhibit agricultural and hunting tools, some more than 7,000 years old. The second will focus on fossils of animals and birds caught by the ancient Egyptians, including ducks, geese, cranes, ibises and also a copy of the bull Apis (the rural god of fertility).

The interior of the Agricultural Museum, which opened in 1938.

The interior of the Agricultural Museum, which opened in 1938.

The interior of the Agricultural Museum, which opened in 1938.

Among the blossoming trees that are so old and majestic that they are almost statues in themselves, the museum complex is like an everlasting tribute to nature.
High reliefs, portals, and wrought iron elements recreate palm trees, lotus flowers and the papyrus plant.

The interior of the Coton Museum.

The Cotton Museum

The Cotton Museum, which has not fully opened yet, traces the history of cotton in Egypt and the world. On display are manuscripts and legislative decrees on cotton, antique embroidered fabrics, illustrations, information and samples of all botanical varieties in the world, from the extinct to the most recent. Countless models illustrate cultivation methods and spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing processes.

This chart perfectly represents the finishing process that starts with the freshly picked fibres in flocks to the creation of perfect cotton yarn: dyed, gassed, and mercerized.
The hand-picked cotton is carefully cleaned of bits of vegetable leaves. The long and very thin fibers of the best Egyptian cotton is carded and combed in several subsequent steps.
The single ply is then twisted, gassed and mercerized to acquire features that are unsurpassed in strength, shine and colour intensity.

The rooms of the Museum


VIP Hall

  • The areas of Egypt planted with different varieties of cotton since 1925
  • A map of the origin of Egyptian cotton varieties known since 1818
  • New programs for the production of new varieties of cotton
  • Photos of famous personalities who have worked in the world of cotton and who have contributed to the progress and promotion of its features
  • Examples of commercial varieties of Egyptian cotton grown today
  • The research plant of the Cotton Research Institute

Big Hall

  • Glass cabinets in the form of pyramids containing ancient varieties of commercial cotton
  • Back-lit cases showing the various stages of cotton production, from cultivation to harvest
  • Map which shows world exports of cotton and Egyptian cotton worldwide in 1931
  • Statistics for the acreage of cotton cultivation around the world, with reference to yield / cultivation and harvest period
  • Paintings of the most famous Egyptian artists with the theme of cultivation, harvest and the transport of cotton

Old Collections Hall (Heritage)

  • A painting of Mohammed Ali Basha, the first promoter of cotton cultivation in Egypt on a commercial basis
  • Extracts of articles from Egyptian newspapers (Al-Wakai) dealing with cotton harvests since 1934
  • Some of the "Higher Orders" issued by Mohammed Ali for the governors of districts with regard to the cultivation of cotton
  • The manufacture of Coptic and Syrian textiles dating from the 12th and 14th centuries AD
  • Collections of the embroidery work of peasants and other rural arts, including a hand-needled embroidery of cotton on leather
  • A model of a hand-operated loom from 1920, used in the production of some of the best and most imaginative Polin cotton fabrics, produced from "Seclarides" cotton
  • A chart illustrating the various stages of production from cultivation to harvest and the removal of the stem
  • Rare and unique paintings with the theme of cultivation and cotton production in China in the 18th century
  • A rare painting regarding the cotton spinning industry in Germany in 1540
  • Hand-operated spindles for cotton used in Sudan since 1934
  • A hand-operated ginning machine from Chad
  • Coloured cotton and attempts to produce it since 1906

Main Exhibition Halls

All aspects of cotton: the history, science, cultivation, production and trade are presented in ten rooms.

Hall 1 - history and science:

  • Ancient manuscripts regarding cotton from the era of Al-Bokhari, Ibn El-Awam and Ibn El-Bitar
  • Historical books on cotton, the oldest of which regards the first appearance of cotton in the year 79 AD
  • The classification of cotton in the plant kingdom
  • The evolution and development of cotton in the world, the varieties of cotton and their discovery dates
  • A map of the geographical distribution of cotton
  • A unique collection of the different varieties of cotton
  • A model of the mythical vegetable lamb

Hall 2 - cotton production and the preservation of the pure strain:
  • Various hybridization methods with the pure strain and the conservation of cotton varieties
  • Various production methods including: single selection, group selection, and self-insemination of the pure strain
  • Illuminated tables on the dissection of cotton flowers and the different types of cotton seeds
  • Plants of Egyptian cotton compared to Indian and other Indian hybrids

Halls 3 and 4:
  • Painting of the different varieties of Egyptian cotton since their appearance in 1818
  • Painting of Egyptian cotton varieties classified according to the historical era in which they appeared
  • A collection of 70 ancient Egyptian cotton varieties, their plant characteristics and areas of distribution and cultivation

Hall 5 - symptoms and signs of diseases affecting cotton:
  • Analysis of cotton seeds (purity test, cleaning, germination, parasitic test)
  • Tools and cultivation methods
  • Illuminated tables of the various phases of soil preparation, ploughing systems, irrigation and harvest
  • Groups of insects affecting cotton from seeds to plants
  • The life cycle of parasitic insects
  • Methods of insect control through diffusers (manual and air powders), traps and pheromones.
  • Symptoms and signs of diseases affecting cotton
  • Corridor, lined with:
  • Tables illustrating harvest methods
  • Backlit tables showing the transportation methods of cotton
  • Charts of the cultivation and rotation, fertilization, irrigation and automated harvest of Egyptian cotton
  • Tables of the growth stages and illustrations of the flowers and shells of cotton
  • Illustrations on the evolution of harvesting methods
Corridor, lined with:
  • Tables illustrating harvest methods
  • Means of transporting cotton
  • Crop rotation, fertilization, irrigation and automated harvesting of Egyptian cotton
  • Stages of growth of the cotton flower and hull
  • Harvest collection: changes over the centuries

Hall 6 - the classification, ginning, pressing and packing of cotton:
  • Phases of manual classification by level
  • Illustration of cotton ginning (cylinder gins, gin saws and small examples of other systems)
  • Illustration of the pressing process using hydraulic presses and commercial pressing in bales of cotton destined for the port of Alexandria
  • Groups of illuminated tables regarding the commercial trade in cotton and the ginning and pressing stages
  • Table on the number of gins and their distribution in Egypt
  • Models of an integrated gin industry and of a steam press for the preparation of bales of cotton

Hall 7 - spinning:
  • Circular spinning (ring) and combing
  • Open-end spinning, mixing line, cleaning, combing and collection
  • Equipment for analysing spinning, and spinning model

Hall 8 - weaving and preparation:
  • The weaving process with and without bobbins
  • Weaving models

Hall 9 - preparation of yarns and textiles:
  • Photographs of the various preparation stages of the yarn and fabrics
  • Photographs of the process of printing on fabric (manual and using cylinders)
  • Steps and requirements for the production of ready-made clothes
  • Common defects in textile production
  • Various examples of cotton work
  • Samples of cotton fabrics
  • Samples of Egyptian cotton fabrics produced in England
  • Re-use of waste generated from each step in the spinning process
  • Relative production phases of cotton for medicinal use

Hall 10 - industry and the cotton economy:
  • Manufacture of cotton fabric, velvet, embroidery, jacquard and underwear
  • Plant textile fibers mixed into cotton products (wool, linen, natural silk, jute)
  • Artificial textile fibers mixed into cotton products (artificial silk, viscose, nylon, polyester)
  • Different industries dependent on cotton seeds
  • Statistics on the area of cultivation, production, average yield per feddan, for the local consumption and export of cotton (1900-1996)


A rare collection of foreign cotton varieties, harvested since 1934, from the USA, Russia, India, Greece, Spain, Malta, Tanganyika, Ceylon, Cyprus, Sudan, Japan, Iraq, Syria, Mozambique, Togo and Puerto Rico.

Cropping systems and subsequent steps of natural hybridization have improved and maintained the superior characteristics of Egyptian cotton over time.

Syrian and Coptic textiles dating from the 12th and 14th centuries are kept in the Heritage Old Collections Hall, along with a collection of peasant-manufactured textiles.

Syrian and Coptic textiles dating from the 12th and 14th centuries are kept in the Heritage Old Collections Hall, along with a collection of peasant-manufactured textiles.

Syrian and Coptic textiles dating from the 12th and 14th centuries are kept in the Heritage Old Collections Hall, along with a collection of peasant-manufactured textiles, including cotton hand embroidered with a needle on leather.

Syrian and Coptic textiles dating from the 12th and 14th centuries are kept in the Heritage Old Collections Hall, along with a collection of peasant-manufactured textiles.

Syrian and Coptic textiles dating from the 12th and 14th centuries are kept in the Heritage Old Collections Hall, along with a collection of peasant-manufactured textiles.

Syrian and Coptic textiles dating from the 12th and 14th centuries are kept in the Heritage Old Collections Hall, along with a collection of peasant-manufactured textiles.

Syrian and Coptic textiles dating from the 12th and 14th centuries are kept in the Heritage Old Collections Hall, along with a collection of peasant-manufactured textiles.

Seeds of different varieties of cotton are preserved in antique glass vases that resemble Fabergé eggs - as if the symbolic form of the egg might guarantee the sanctity and eternal regeneration of this species.
The seeds of the cotton plant are the size of a grain of wheat and are lined with a strong but thin blackish shell, covered with dense and delicate white hairs, the residue of the boll. Rich in oils and protein, vegetable oil is extracted for human consumption and the seeds are used as supplements for animal feed. Sometimes the seeds are used for making soap, and recently as an alternative energy source in the production of biodiesel.

The map shows the exports of Egyptian cotton to different parts of the world in the year 1933.

The map of the world cotton harvest in 1933.

The symbolic heart of the Cotton Museum is this extraordinary room. The birth over more than a century of all varieties of cultivated cotton is documented here. On the walls are the "fathers" of various varieties kept in glass cases.

Cotton is exhibited with creative variety: in bureaus, desks and chests of drawers, glass cabinets and display cases in different forms.
The very finest cottons, those that have contributed to the success of the country, are kept in symbolic transparent pyramids, as if to invoke eternal life to the God of Cotton.

A valuable antique chest holds seeds, fibers, flowers in 36 drawers... the entire genetic cotton heritage, in all its varieties known to date.

Mercerized Egyptian cotton yarns for hosiery, produced by "The Fine Cotton Spinners' and Doublers' Association Limited" of Manchester.

Egyptian dyed cotton yarns, produced by the Société Misr of Mahalla el Kobrah.

A large model represents the neighbourhood of the Cotton Fair of 1887.
The first Cotton Museum was established here, as a mirror of the international visibility of Egyptian cotton in the second half of the 19th century.
In 1961 the fair was pulled down and the museum was temporarily moved to neighbouring warehouses.
In 1986 the museum was transferred to an exhibition hall at the Museum of Agriculture.

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