Beirut Museum of Art to Open in 2026

Monday, January 16, 2023
Beirut Museum of Art to Open in 2026

In an act of wilful optimism and resilient hope for Lebanon, the new Beirut Museum of Art (BeMA) has been reimagined around the three central pillars of its mission...

In an act of wilful optimism and resilient hope for Lebanon, the new Beirut Museum of Art (BeMA) has been reimagined around the three central pillars of its mission...

To expand BeMA’s unique work around education and community engagement
• To lead in the development of national and regional conservation practices through the Museum’s exemplary ongoing restoration work
• To disseminate to the broadest possible audience Lebanon’s longstanding artistic and intellectual engagement with modernity through the extraordinary treasure that is its underexposed National Collection of Lebanese art.

With the National Collection occupying the heart of the museum on two of the three gallery floors, the new BeMA presents a unique opportunity to re-read the history, evolution, and legacy of modern art in Lebanon across painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography. Bringing together, for the first time, over 2,300 pieces that span from the 19th century early photographic portrait-paintings through the young nation’s golden age of Abstract Expressionism to the beginnings of politically engaged art of the late 1960s, BeMA’s collection reconstructs the national archive and its history while moving beyond the ubiquitous narratives that have haunted the nation’s reading as both literally and conceptually fragmented, individualistic, derivative or dispersed.

Galleries, Conservation, Education and Performance spaces

Over the past years, BeMA has engaged in extensive work of archival research, restoration and conservation of the collection, and this pioneering work will now be featured prominently on two floors of the museum. State-of-the-art workshops and storage will be housed in the building’s basement. 
On the first floor, public-facing laboratory spaces will be combined with a dedicated area for educational programming and community outreach. 
The lobby level will welcome visitors through an open and porous space with a café on the one side and a bookstore on the other, animating the surrounding streets. 
A column-free, seven-meter-high gallery space on the top floor will serve as a temporary exhibition and multipurpose space, connected to an open roof terrace for outdoor events. 
Conceived as an “open museum,” WORKac’s design enlists the ubiquitous Modernist balcony and hybridizes it with Beirut’s unique Art Deco legacy of deep, ornate verandas. 
The result is a thickened envelope of outdoor project rooms, galleries, event and educational spaces, and gardens that transforms the traditionally closed fortress-like museum façade into a more accessible typology for the museum of the future – dissolving boundaries between the inside and the outside, between the museum and the city and between art and life, inviting people of all walks of life to engage directly with the art. 
Visitors create their own path – overlooking the National Museum to the east or the old Hippodrome to the west – as they ascend from the lobby level to the education and conservation spaces, the permanent collection galleries, the temporary exhibition, and performance space right up to the outdoor roof event space that commands panoramic views of the city and the mountains beyond. 
The balconies morph at ground level to further connect the Museum to the streets and life around it. At times, these extend beyond the front of the building to create a singular canopy marking the Museum’s main entrance on Damascus Street, and at others expand into a slightly elevated platform, which allows the café to spill onto the outside or create zones of opacity and varying scales to designate drop off, parking and loading zones.
With a more efficient structural system, passive approaches to dehumidification, increased solar capacity, and an extensive and varied integration between the inside and the outside as well as between the Museum and the city, the project represents a culmination of WORKac’s decades-long practice of situating architecture at the intersection of its urban, cultural and environmental contexts.
The end goal is to foster encounters and new relationships, further supporting and advancing BeMA’s core philosophy of creating a dialogue centered on education, conservation, and the arts, and running across Lebanon’s extraordinary richness and diversity of intellectual and artistic production: past, present, and future.

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Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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