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Egypt's antiquities minister says long-planned Grand Museum will be managed internationally

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CAIRO — Egypt's antiquities minister said Tuesday that the long-planned Grand Egyptian Museum will have an independent, international directorship in an effort to overcome bureaucracy.

Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said the awaited museum near the Pyramids of Giza will be run "independent" of the government, similar to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, an elaborate piece of architecture which opened in 2002 under a special act of parliament guaranteeing its administrative independence.

"We have a plan for it to have independence and an international board of trustees like the Library of Alexandria," he told reporters at a news conference near the museum's 120-acre construction site.

Former antiquities minister and famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass told The Associated Press in June that the museum must be international because "government routine cannot work for museums."

Private, international sponsorship was needed, he said, suggesting that the names of individual donors be written on the walls of the museum as an incentive.

The Egyptian government is trying to revive its battered tourism industry after four years of turmoil.

Only the foundation and a few structures of the museum have been built so far. It was originally scheduled to have opened years ago but was repeatedly delayed over what the government said was lack of funds. The latest official target aims for a 2018 opening.

The main achievement so far is the construction of a new conservation center to restore damaged antiquities, which is already being used to work on artifacts that will eventually be displayed at the museum.

Established with Japanese technical assistance and a $300 million loan, the center includes laboratories for restoring, scanning and studying mummies as well as artifacts made from pottery, wood, textiles and glass. Staff also receive training in Japan.

PHOTO: Cranes work at the site of Egypt's Grand museum, near the Giza Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. The massive new museum being built by the Pyramids is intended to house 100,000 ancient artifacts including King Tutankhamun's mummy. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Cranes work at the site of Egypt's Grand museum, near the Giza Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. The massive new museum being built by the Pyramids is intended to house 100,000 ancient artifacts including King Tutankhamun's mummy. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

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PHOTO: Cranes work at the site of Egypt's Grand museum, near the Giza Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. The massive new museum being built by the Pyramids is intended to house 100,000 ancient artifacts including King Tutankhamun's mummy. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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