Officials connected with the Beirut Museum of Art (BeMa) detailed their vision for the yet-to-be-built institution at a talk taking place this week at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as reported by Artnews. Present at the discussion were BeMA codirectors Taline Boladian and Juliana Khalaf, and architects Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, of the firm WORKac, which has been tasked with designing the museum. BeMa president Joe Saddi and MoMA director Glenn Lowery served as moderators.
Currently slated to open in 2026, the hotly anticipated institution will gather together some 2,000 works created since Lebanon’s establishment as an independent nation in 1943, with special attention paid to paintings, sculptures, and works on paper made between 1950 and 1975. The museum’s opening will mark the first time the works have been presented together, as most of them have been long hidden away from the public. Those that were on view were assembled from across five sites, among them the Presidential Palace and several Ministry of Culture offices. BeMa will additionally focus on preservation and restoration: of the works collected by the institution’s team, many arrived in poor repair, having been stored in less-than-ideal conditions.
Groundbreaking for the structure that will house the national collection took place in February, on a plot of land donated by Beirut’s Saint Joseph University and sited near National Museum of Beirut, home to a trove of Levantine antiquities. The 129,000-square-foot museum will feature large galleries measuring roughly 2,500 square feet each, comparable in size to those at the Met Breuer in New York. The building boasts a vertical wraparound promenade meant to evoke Mediterranean balconies, which will serve as outdoor galleries, which can be temporarily enclosed as necessary. Of particular note, the building will meet Beirut’s ongoing energy crisis, which frequently results in blackouts, with three generators and an array of rooftop solar panels, which will charge backup batteries. The former will be used to power critical systems including environmental controls, fire alarms, and security, while the latter will power lighting in the event of a blackout.