The Brand New Beirut Museum of Art Revealed

Art News

May 13, 2016

The anticipated new Beirut museum has revealed its name. The institution will be called BeMA: Beirut Museum of Art and it is led by The Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (APEAL), which is a non-profit organization whose aim is to support Lebanon art scene through the organization of international quality programs. The international architecture competition for the new building for the Beirut museum is ongoing, and the winner of it will be announced and selected by the independent jury in Autumn of 2016. The new Beirut museum will open in 2020, and it represents the most significant signs of development of Lebanese art and culture in this generation. The vision behind this project is the creation of a multidisciplinary hub of design and art that will exhibit modern and contemporary culture and art of Lebanon.

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Site of the future Beirut museum, Photo by Roger Moukarzel via

The New Vision

The BeMA: Beirut Museum of Art will aim to bring the diverse populations and narratives from the region under the same roof, and even expand its area of interest to the international artists. In the spirit of this diversity, the museum’s name has been translated into French as Beyrouth Musée de l'Art and into Arabic as بيروت متحفالفن — بما. Even the Arabic abbreviation of its name بما means “including”, which perfectly signifies the museum’s desire to be a place of a dialogue inclusive to different cultures and traditions. Until the museum opens its doors, it is already organizing interesting activities for the audiences, such as the artist-in-residence program in Ras Masqua, launched in March with the contribution of Temporary.Art.Platform (T.A.P.). Six artists, Youmna Geday, Raymond, Gemayel, Ali El-Darsa, Ieva Saudargaite, Myriam Boulos, and Petra Serhal, were invited to help in the development of a research-based, site-specific projects. This project coincided with a myriad of lectures, panels, and film screenings, organized in the collaboration of BeMA, T.A.P, the Municipality of Ras Masqua, the Lebanese University, Saint-Joseph University, and the Lebanese International university. This event called #RMAR was curated by Amanda Abi Khalil, and coordinated by the artist Roy Dib.

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Roman baths park in Downtown Beirut via

Thirteen Shortlisted Architects

Speaking of the architecture competition for the Beirut museum building, the jury that will choose the winning design is chaired by Lord Peter Palumbo, and includes the renowned architects such as Lord Richard Rogers, George Arbid, Fares Al Dahdah, and Rodolphe Khoury, and it included the late Zaha Hadid. In the words of the juror and architect Fares Al Dahdad, the museum has the potential to become a cultural center of the city of Beirut, and therefore must have the building that reflects its significance. The jury has selected thirteen firms that compete for the opportunity to have their design immortalized in the form of the new Beirut Museum. The contestant firms include Bernard Khoury / DW5, 109 Architectes s.a.r.l., HW architecture, Hashim Sarkis Studios, LLC, L.E.FT Architects, ETEC SA, ibda design, IDC / Verner Johnson, Lina Ghotmeh /DHT Architects, Najjar Najjar Architect, Raëd Abillama Architects / Nadim Khattar, WORK Architecture Company (WORKac), Yatsu Chahal Architects (YCa), Said Jazari Consulting Office (SJCO), Youssef Tohme Architects and Associates (YTAA). These firms have been asked to create concept designs and strategies for the Université Saint-Joseph-owned site in Beirut for stage two of the competition.

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Street art in Beirut by Yazan Halwani via

The New Beirut Museum of Art Concept

The building of the new Beirut museum will have to respond to the needs of the programs that the institution will organize. It will feature a number of gallery spaces, a community art space, as well as spaces that can be used for documentation, conservation, public education programs, and artists-in-residence, according to Rita Nammour, the APEAL president. The museum will include painting, sculpture, works on paper, visual arts, new media, video, photography, film, performance arts, and design. It will feature Lebanese and Middle Eastern art, but will not say no to including the works by international artists. All in all, the Beirut Museum of Art will definitely be a place of diversity and a cultural hub of the region, and will surely benefit the Lebanese tourism industry while encouraging young, talented people from Lebanon to pursue the career in art and exhibit their works in this institution. Stay tuned, Widewalls will follow the development of the museum and report on the ongoing architecture competition.

What do you think about the new Beirut museum? Will it live up to the expectations? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

All images are for illustrative purposes only.
Featured image: The view of Beirut via