The idea of establishing a museum to exhibit modern Egyptian art masterpieces was first introduced in 1925 by Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil, a famous Egyptian fine art fan. Following a joint exhibition by Egyptian and foreign artists at the Cairo Arts Saloon, Khalil decided to purchase some of the exhibited items to be the cornerstone of the museum. The Ministry of Education paid LE 504 to buy 29 paintings and 11 curios of pottery.
Khalil, the founder and chairman of the Egyptian Fine Arts Lovers Association, decided to display the art works in a large room at the association's headquarters.
Several years later, the donations of fine art aficionados filled the room and the Ministry of Education decided to move the museum to a new headquarters at Mousiri Palace. In 1931, the museum became an independent art authority.
In 1986, the government, through the Ministry of Culture, stepped in and decided to move the museum and its affiliated art and cultural activities to its current headquarters in Gezira.
This headquarters was built in 1936 and designed by renowned architect Moustafa Bey Fahmi. It took the government five years of extensive work to prepare the building to display the rare collections of the museum. The building is now contributing to the development of the fine art movement in Cairo and the region.
The Egyptian Museum of Modern Art now displays more than 10,000 paintings and sculptures that represent the development of the Egyptian art movement from the pioneers of the early 20th century to the contemporary art trends.
Among the most celebrated artists whose works of art are displayed in the museum are:
Mahmoud Mokhtar: the first sculptor in the modern Egyptian art movement.
Mohammed Nagui: a former diplomat who advocated his life to fine arts reflecting the Egyptian milieu, traditions and cultural heritage in most of his work.
Youssef kamel: an impressionist artist who produced masterpieces depicting the Egyptian countryside and traditional markets.
Ragheb Ayyad: a leading Egyptian artist who innovated a new trend using coloured cartoons to express his themes.
Ahmad Sabri: the pioneer of Egyptian portrait art.
Mahmoud Said: an Alexandrian artist who quit his judicial career and dedicated his efforts to enhance the Egyptian Art Movement through his new style and techniques.