Inside the Library

Townhouse Gallery, Cairo

Take a look into libraries and book collections holding some of the rarer and often forgotten publications, which are nonetheless essential to the discourse on both sides of the spectrum. Featured this time: the library of the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo which recently reopened.

The Outpost – Issue 7: The Possibility of Finding Home, 2017. Magazine. Courtesy of Townhouse Gallery

The Outpost – Issue 7: The Possibility of Finding Home, 2017. Magazine. Courtesy of Townhouse Gallery

By Jenifer Evans

The Townhouse Library – A place for encounters in downtown Cairo 

Located in a converted paper factory, Cairo’s Townhouse Library is one of the leading libraries in contemporary art, critical theory, and curatorial practice in Egypt and beyond, providing a valuable resource for artists, students, researchers, and all interested readers. The ever growing collection embraces over 2,500 titles, including publications, catalogues of exhibitions featuring the work of local, regional and international artists, monographs, and periodicals on arts and culture.

With its central location, the space offers an inviting atmosphere for numerous exchanges which continue to give birth to an abundance of projects in the educational and creative sector.

Open Studio at the Townhouse Gallery. Courtesy of Townhouse Gallery

Public Programs 

The Townhouse Library is home to a series of public programs, including monthly conversations within a literary salon, curated film screenings, writing and criticism workshops, and open studios for artists.


Townhouse Literary Salon is a monthly program of informal conversations in English and Arabic led by a writer, an artist or a researcher invited to curate a topic and share relevant readings with the public. The talks bring together a diversified audience and guest speakers of different ages and backgrounds. The previous guest speakers include Iman Mersal, Hytham El Wardani, Jehan Bseiso, among others.

The end result will be the creation of an audio archive of library talks helping to expand our records of readings and conversations, which will be accessible free of charge to everyone. The aim of this project is to emphasize the significance of documentation and discourse dissemination.

Shashet Townhouse
Shashet, which means “screen” in Arabic, is a line-up of curated film screenings that run in parallel with the monthly exhibition program. The program includes debut screenings of award-winning shorts, documentaries and experimental films, followed by a conversation with the filmmakers.

In addition to its public programs, the library also serves as a meeting point for students groups and often hosts open studios for photographers and designers in addition to book launches.
At the Townhouse Library you will always find someone engaged in work, the space busy with conversations over coffee, workshops for children and adults, and open studios for visiting artists.

The Townhouse library. Courtesy of the Townhouse Gallery


New Arrivals at Townhouse Library

Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo, by Manar Moursi and David Puig
An intimate portrait of the capital of Egypt seen from sidewalk street chairs and the thousands of people who occupy them. These far from perfect, used chairs, which populate Cairo’s sidewalks, speak of the city from below.
Combining Polaroid photography, interviews, essays, prose and poetry in English and Arabic, the book presents creative practices of design that occur on the sidewalk along with the unplanned interventions in the public space. It explores recycling, socio-economic, gender, and urban issues at play in the streets of Cairo.

Book launch of 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo, by Manar Moursi and David Puig at Sidewalk Salon, 2017. Courtesy of Townhouse Gallery

The Outpost – Issue 7: The Possibility of Finding Home

The Outpost is a magazine of possibilities in the Arab world. Published in Beirut, Lebanon, and distributed worldwide, the magazine is an attempt to capture the energies of a changing region and to lay down possible futures.

“It took us one year to complete this number, during which we reached out to and collaborated with more than 200 writers, artists, creators, and thinkers from the Arab region and beyond. This is an issue about home at a time when many young Arabs are looking for one.”

Townhouse is a nonprofit art space situated in the heart of downtown Cairo. Established in 1998, Townhouse has initiated a breadth of activities: an extensive program of exhibitions, artist talks, film screenings, performances, and international residencies for artists, curators, writers, and filmmakers.


Opening hours are Saturday to Wednesday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to the library program manager Sarah Bahgat:; follow the Townhouse Facebook page to find out about our upcoming programs as well as our monthly new arrivals and publications.



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