The Coptic Museum boasts the largest collection of Coptic art in the world. In 1908, Marcus Simaika Pasha founded the museum on behalf of the Coptic Church. He chose for it a unique spot in Old Cairo within the Fortress of Babylon and surrounded by a number of Cairo’s ancient churches. Simaika brought artifacts from churches, monasteries, houses, and private collections to the museum. In 1931, the Coptic Museum became a national museum under the supervision of the Egyptian Department of Antiquities.
The greater part of the magnificent Coptic collection in the Egyptian museum was transferred to the Coptic Museum in 1939. In March 1947, a large new wing was opened; its style is similar of that of the Old Wing, with carved wooden ceilings and picturesque fountains. The museum was completely renovated in 2006 after the earthquake of 1992 that affected its Old Wing.
The most significant of the museum’s monuments came from Ahnas (Heracleopolis magna), Kellia, the Monastery of St. Jeremiah at Saqqara, the Monastery of St. Apollo at Bawit, and from Cairo’s ancient churches. The Coptic Gnostic codices (the Library of Nag Hammadi) represent one of the most valuable papyri collections.