A collector of stories, Brazilian creates itinerant museum

Son of Palestinian, Maisur Musa has been collecting pieces for 32 years. He brought together 160 original ones in his Itinerant Museum Mysteries of Ancient Egypt.

Thais Sousa
tsousa@anba.com.br

São Paulo – Son of Palestian, Maisur Musa (picture above) still recalls the first contact he had with what would become his passion. “My grandfather gave me Palestinian coins from 1924. I was five and that looked ancient to me!” the collector said in a phone interview to ANBA. Maisur is the creator of the Museu Itinerante Mistérios do Antigo Egito e Terra Santa (Itinerant Museum Mysteries of Ancient Egypt and the Holy Land), which travels Brazil bringing knowledge and awe for the Ancient worlds.

From that first coin on, he has never gotten too far from old artifacts. When he was 5 and 10 years old, he traveled to Palestine to his father’s hometown Ramallah, where his family moved to when he was 13. Shortly after, he stumbled on archeology. “I was playing with my friends and we found a cave. In fact, it was a gallery. I was so interested! I remember that day perfectly, I get the chills. It was very moving to be standing inside that cave where people lived thousands of years ago. They had a life there,” he recalled.

After this day, Maisur started looking for information from his teachers and got involved in the theme. “I discovered the gallery had already been found years before, and remains of vases were found there. I begun to meet archeologists, I have great friends until today.”

A collector since an early age

He encountered the gallery in 1985. And since then he started to view himself as a collector. “I think it was when I realized I stopped spending money with chocolate and other stuff, and started buying pieces,” he told that, when he was 10, he was already going to antique shops and was impressed by the old pieces and the architecture.

Out of 160 original pieces Maisur exhibits, 69 are from the Ancient Egypt and the Holy Land

It was at his first visit to Egypt, when he was 17 years old, that Maisur’s interest became even sharper. On and off, he spent a total of 12 years living in Palestine. And even during the years he lived in Europe, he never stopped digging. “The Palestinian government does not allow any original piece to leave the country. So, most of them are from antique shops in Jerusalem, which is controlled by Israel that allows pieces not so culturally important to leave the territory. Other pieces were bought during travels to London, Paris and New York.”

Finally, in 1995, the collector was invited by a producer to participate in an exhibition in Brazil. “Since I was a kid, it was so interesting! I’ve always enjoyed going to museums. I was thinking in something like that. Then, I realized the whole country lacks events like this.” After his first exhibition in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Maisur began his project of an itinerant museum. “I received many invites and started with pieces from Ancient Egypt. Then I added the Holy Land. And recently, some two years ago, I included Pompei,” he said.

Since he began exhibiting his collections, Musa has never stopped growing it. “I still have every piece I bought since the beginning. Except from the ones that were stolen. Unfortunately, there was the robbery of an original Osiris. Despite the cameras, this happened, and they were not recovered,” he explained. The pieces are encased in glass and at least one employee watches the exhibition.

‘Bastet was represented as a cat,’ told the collector

Out of the 160 original pieces in the museum’s collection, 69 are from Ancient Egypt and the Holy Land. Maisur highlights his oldest piece is five thousand years old. “It is a Venus, 60% original, 40% a reconstitution,” he said. Now, the show is being exhibited in Maceió, Alagoas. “We often extend the event so that people from the region, neighbor and distant cities, can attend. There are people who visit the museum and discover themselves. Marcia Jamille is an example – she is now an Egyptologer. That is what encourages us to keep this project, although it is exhausting with all the assembling, loading, special care,” he revealed. The transport, assembly and disassembly of the pieces can last up to 40 days, not counting the days of the exhibition.

Through the artifacts, Musa tells more about the details that fascinate him. “Whenever I have the chance, I pretend to be an archeologist of antique shops and dig there. Each piece has its own meaning. For example, we have a statue of Bastet, who is considered a war goddess. She had also dominium over medicine and could bring death to her enemies through medicine. Each god stood out in something and (the Egyptians) looked long and hard to nature. They learned a lot from it. Bastet was represented as a cat, an animal brought from abroad to kill serpents, scorpions. Anubis, god of the dead, was represented as a jackal, which used to lurk around tombs,” detail the museum’s creator.

Among so many artifacts dug in these 32 years, does he have a favorite piece? Maybe the most precious one? “To be honest, my favorite ones are the smallest daily pieces, because we can actually understand people through them. Lamps, rings, they tell everyday stories. Among the little pieces from Pompei, there are rings that were door keys, for example. What I find most interest is that things tell everyday stories from common people. They don’t talk about noblemen but about how people really lived. Through these tiny everyday things, we learn the truth,” confided the collector.

Translated by Guilherme Miranda

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