On November 7, 2022, the Beirut Museum of Art or BeMA, revealed its vision and details about the much-awaited project in New York. The museum is set to launch in Beirut to promote modern and contemporary art from Lebanon and its neighbouring district. The museum will be focussing on Lebanese culture and Lebanese Diaspora artistic creation. BeMA will be the country&rsquos largest contemporary art museum.
BeMA holds the vision of engaging with diverse communities to foster conversations with respect to different cultural organisations across the region to closely knit different narratives and bring up opportunities for budding artists. BeMA is dedicated to creating a space where works and voices of artists are recognised in civil societies highlighting the fact that art is food for the soul and it needs to be preserved to value the Lebanese culture.
BeMA has received an indefinite loan with which it launched a restoration lab which is funded by the Cultural Preservation Program of the German Federal Foreign Office. The goal of BeMA&rsquos restoration lab is to restore and preserve the collection of the Lebanese Ministry of Culture that suffered during the Lebanese Civil War due to poor storage and getting exposed to humidity that lead to the growth of moulds, mosses, and layers of dust and grime on the art pieces.
The conservation and restoration of artwork are being done by the academicians of the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ), who are working tirelessly to devise preservation strategies with scientific techniques in order to solve problems that are occurring in the process of restoration. A rotating exhibition of 2,000 works of art collected since Lebanon's independence will focus on works on paper, sculptures, and paintings created between 1950 and 1975. As a part of UNESCO&rsquos LiBeiruit Initiative, BeMa restored 17 paintings that suffered heavy damage during the port blasts in Beirut on August 4, 2020.
Amale Andraos, former dean of the Columbia Univerity Graduate School of Architecture, current special advisor to the President of the University and co-founder of New York City architecture WORK Architecture Company (WORKac), is the architect of the museum. She describes that 'planned building is an act of willful optimism and resilient hope for Lebanon.' A byproduct of Lebanon's general economic downturn is the energy crisis that is affecting Beirut. Blackouts and erratic bursts of state-supplied power have been common over the past year due to fuel shortages and a malfunctioning electricity sector. According to ARTnews, Andros proposed to have solutions to this problem while designing the building. To manage the sporadic blackouts, the building depends on a combination of generators and battery backup from the rooftop solar system. The structure will have three generators and a &lsquophotovoltaic array on the roof.&rsquo The generators will be responsible for powering the building&rsquos essential systems, such as security, fire alarms, and climate control, while the battery backup will take care of the lights.
Juliana Khalaf and Taline Boladian are the directors of BeMA. The museum will be housed in a 12,000 square metre building with 2,700 square metres of exhibition area. The size of each gallery is expected to be around 520 square metres. The permanent collection will be housed on levels 2 and 3, while performances and temporary exhibitions will take place on level 4. BeMA&rsquos construction started in February this year.
More about the museum here.
Where VGH7QWF, Beirut, Lebanon