Sinnari House (Bayt al-Sinnari) is one of the remaining bourgeois mansions in the district of al-Sayeda Zeinab. It is located in the neighborhood of al-Nasseriya in the dead-end of Monge alley.
The house is the property of Ibrahim Katkhuda al-Sinnari. He was a Mamluk of Murad Bek, with Berber origins as reported by al-Jabarti, and his surname refers to the city of Sennar. In 1798, the house was confiscated by the French to serve as a place and residence for the members of the Commission of Science and Arts that accompanied the military expedition of Napoleon to Egypt. Their mission was to conduct a systematic study of Egypt, with the publication of Description de l’Egypte at the top of their achievements. An original copy of this book was donated to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, by Dr. Boutros Ghali, former UN Secretary-General.
Similar to L’Institut de France, Sinnari House encompassed four sections; namely mathematics, physics, political economics, and literature and fine arts. During its first meeting, Gaspard Monge was elected as president of Sinnari House, Napoleon Bonaparte the deputy, and Joseph Fourier the secretary. However, with the departure of the French expedition in 1801, the institute lost its main purpose and stopped its activities.
In 1916, Gayardon Bek submitted a request to the Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments of Arab Art, to use the house as a museum to display his special collection of the French Campaign on Egypt and Syria. After their approval, Gayardon Bek built the Bonaparte museum from 1917 to 1926. The museum, however, was closed after his death, and then vacated in 1933. During the sixties of the twentieth century, the house hosted the Center of Archaeological Crafts, affiliated with the Egyptian Antiquities Organization (EAO).
All this, in addition the earthquake of 1992, caused severe damage to the building, until its restoration that began in 1996 by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), in collaboration with the French mission.
Upon the request of Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of the BA, and following the approval of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Monuments; Sinnari House became affiliated with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina to become an important cultural center in the district of al-Sayeda Zeinab, with the aim to raise cultural, artistic, and scientific awareness in the surrounding areas, and encourage young people to engage in public life. To this end, Sinnari house organizes a spectrum of cultural and artistic events including exhibitions, seminars, forums, workshops, and theater performances, as well as meetings and debates to discuss the future of science and knowledge at different levels. The role of Sinnari House is an extension to the mission set by the BA, to recapture the spirit of the old Sinnari House and become a platform for science, culture, and arts.
For more information about the upcoming events at Sinnari House, please check the monthly program here.