• 03:37
  • Sunday ,29 August 2010

Van Gogh theft prompts Egypt museum pledge

By-Egypt news

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Sunday ,29 August 2010

Van Gogh theft prompts Egypt museum pledge

 Egypt is pledging strict measures to protect its cultural and archeological treasures after the theft of a Vincent Van Gogh painting on Saturday

The Dutch artist's Poppy Flowers or Flowers in Vase, valued at $50 million US, was stolen from a Cairo museum while its alarms and security cameras were either broken or disconnected.
A Head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass is proposing a central control room to invisibly monitor all the country's museums.
He is pledging to upgrade alarm systems at archeological sites and museums across Egypt.
"A central control room will be set up and will be electronically linked to all the surveillance rooms that exist in the museums," said Hawass, who is also vice-minister of culture.
Hawass said Egypt's 23 museums that open to the public are all equipped with cameras and surveillance systems. Another 18 museums are undergoing upgrades.
Egyptian authorities face mounting criticism at home over the daytime theft of the Van Gogh from Cairo's Mahmoud Khalil museum.
Authorities have detained five staff for questioning and taken passports away from others in a probe of the incident.
Newspaper Al-Ahram has called authorities to task for the ill-trained and unqualified security staff at most museums.
"One of the main problems is the lack of qualified and well-trained staff," the newspaper said in a commentary Tuesday.
Egypt has a rich trove of treasures from the pharaohs, as well as countless Islamic, Christian and Jewish antiquities.
In 2004, a thief managed to hide overnight inside the world-renowned Egyptian Museum in an attempt to steal the solid gold death mask of boy-king Tutankhamun. He was arrested as he tried to get through the gates of the building.
Next month, Egypt reopens its Museum of Islamic Art to the public after an eight-year $10-million US restoration.