I was lucky to visit before the official opening: I spent two hours in this amazing white palace, with an excellent guide, Muriel, who knows the history of the place by heart and made sure to explain each and every detail. The highlight of the visit was stepping into Mr Sursock's private office!
Here’s a sneak peek through my lens before the official opening.
|Mr. Nicolas Sursock's Office|
The Sursock Museum was conceived out of Lebanese collector Nicolas Sursock’s commitment to the endorsement and promotion of art. Recognizing the need for institutional support of artists in Lebanon, Sursock left his mansion, built in 1912, to the city of Beirut as an art museum upon his death in 1952. A nine-year delay in implementing Sursock’s will followed. During that time, former Lebanese President Camille Chamoun issued a decree turning the villa into a palais d’hôtes, housing various visiting heads of states.
The Museum opened its doors in 1961 with the Salon d’Automne, an open call exhibition showcasing new art of the time. The Salon, based on the 19th-century French model, awarded different prizes for the most innovative works. It was held regularly since the Museum’s opening, tracing the evolution of fine arts in Lebanon throughout the years. Major Lebanese artists featured in the Salon in include Chafic Abboud, Yvette Achkar, Etel Adnan, Michel Basbous, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Paul Guiragossian, Elie Kanaan, Aref el Rayess, and Adel Saghir.
Alongside the Salon d’Automne, the Museum held a diverse exhibitions program showcasing art from all over the world, from Arabic manuscripts, oriental carpets, and Syrian contemporary art, to sculptures and drawings by Rodin, 20th century British watercolors and drawings, and Belgian contemporary art. Notably, the Museum remained open throughout most of the Lebanese Civil War, despite a period of uncertainty.
In 2008, the Museum closed for major renovation and expansion works that saw a fivefold increase in its total surface area. This structural overhaul aimed at providing the Museum with the facilities that would turn it into a cutting-edge cultural institution of the 21st century.
Two temporary exhibitions and two collection displays will launch the museum’s new era.
Regards sur Beyrouth 160 ans d’images
The City in the City
Permanent collection displays
A Selection of Works from the Sursock Museum Collection
A Selection of Photographs from the Fouad Debbas Collection
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: ENTRY TO THE MUSEUM IS FREE SO YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE!!!Huge thanks to Zeina Arida & Muriel Kahwaji for this exceptional privilege.