For Hawass, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, the museum's basement is full of more than boxes and packing tape. "When you come [in] here and you walk around the galleries, you can smell history," he says.
The museum's new exhibition is, fittingly, located in the basement. New galleries were built in an unused part of the space.
The museum's upstairs is also getting a facelift. Renovations to the 100-year-old institution, located in Cairo's Tahrir Square, include the installation of air conditioning, more modern lighting, and an annex for the gift shop.
The redone second floor of the museum will house a conservation lab, children's museum, and lecture hall. Adults also will be able to take classes at the museum's new school.
The work is scheduled to start now and be completed in seven months.
Hawass is excited about all the changes in store, saying: "The museum is going to be the heart of Cairo."
Egypt's Hidden Treasures premieres Sunday, December 15, on EXPLORER on MSNBC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES