Located steps away from the National Museum of Beirut, The Beirut Museum of Art marks the first major development of its kind in Lebanon since the economic crisis began in 2019. This week, Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati laid the first stone of the museum after years of work in progress.
Financed by independent and non-profit organizations and founded in 2017 by Sandra Abou Nader and Rita Nammour, the museum is set to open its doors in 2026. Originally slated to open in 2020, the project underwent many complications as Lebanon was faced with financial disputes during the October revolution and the Beirut port explosion on August 4 that shook the course of the country resulting in an estimated US $15 billion in property damage and hundreds of lives lost, all while in the middle of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Once open, the museum will spotlight Lebanese culture and heritage through works of art gathered by the Ministry of Culture featuring 3,000 pieces of local, regional, and international paintings, sculptures, and written works. This will further grant access for the growth of the local art scene within Lebanon facing difficulties in showcasing their work after being held back by the economic crisis.
BeMA also aims to provide a reflection of Lebanon’s art and culture through its architecture designed by Amale Andraos. Standing tall with a white base and Mediterranean-inspired balconies that is reminiscent of houses and buildings in Lebanon, the museum set aside spaces for art education and conservation. It will also include a rooftop garden where kids can play in the large playground.
In an effort to revive the Lebanese culture and heritage that has experienced much turbulence throughout the past couple of years and in collaboration with Beirut’s Saint Joseph University and their generous land donation that the museum is being built on, BeMA faces many challenges but comes with a goal to reclaim Lebanon’s art scene.