Beirut National Museum

No visit to Beirut is complete without a visit to the National Museum: beautifully renovated, it houses some of Lebanon’s- and the Near-east’s- richest archeological collections.

Inaugurated in 1942, the Beirut National Museum’s history is as tumultuous as the country itself. Until 1975, museum visitors could admire a large collection of archeological treasures including sarcophagi, mosaics, ceramics and others. When civil war ravaged the country in 1975, the museum, located on a demarcation line that divided Beirut into two distinct warring factions, closed its doors for nearly two decades.

During the war, the building held tragic meaning in that the area became known as the “museum passage”, as in the gateway between the two Beiruts. The wealth of objects housed in the building were hidden in basements or protected from shelling first with sandbags then with concrete walls to ensure their survival. When the cease-fire was declared in 1991, the building was all-but destroyed, peppered with bullet holes and graffiti from its previous use as a barrack. Part of the museum collections were in dire condition, having had no upkeep for over 15 years, other parts were burnt in the shell fire.

Restoration work began in 1995 and was partially completed in 1997, when the lower ground section of the museum was re-opened to the public, only to close again in 1998 due to its inability to meet the needs and standards of modern museology. In 1999, it was finally inaugurated in its current form: A decidedly modern three floor building complete with a boutique and an outdoor garden, the museum now houses staggering collections of over 1300 archaeological artifacts, displayed in chronological order, both mesmerizing in their history and awe-inspiring in their completeness and degree of preservation.

 

 

Art Museums
Who goes? Everyone



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