Beirut's Sursock Museum to reopen in late May

Cherished Lebanese cultural institution was closed after suffering severe damage in the 2020 port blast

Historic Sursock Museum prepares to reopen its doors

The Sursock Museum in Beirut. Courtesy Sursock Museum
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The Sursock Museum, one of Beirut’s most prominent cultural institutions, will reopen its doors at the end of May, director Karina El Helou told the National.

The announcement comes after reports on Monday incorrectly said it would reopened in March, sparking excitement among art-lovers in Lebanon.

“The museum will resume its programming at the end of May. The exact date and programme will be communicated later,” Ms El Helou said.

Beirut’s largest and oldest independent cultural institution was closed after suffering severe damage in the deadly 2020 Beirut blast.

Entire sections of the early 20th-century villa and its iconic stained glass were destroyed and the 30 artworks on display at the time of the explosion were also damaged.

As the repairs were made, the museum resumed partial activities, including art festivals, talks and workshops.

But its exhibition spaces remain closed.

“The rehabilitation works are set to be finished by the end of February,” Ms El Helou said.

She said that the Sursock Museum had raised $2 million to save the Beirut architectural landmark, without any government help.

The funding came mainly from the Italian government and Unesco, which jointly donated $965,000. The French Ministry of Culture and ALIPH, a global fund dedicated to the rehabilitation of cultural heritage in conflict zones, both donated $500,000.

The museum was once the private villa of Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock, an art collector and a member of one of Beirut’s most prominent families, before it was turned into a modern art museum in 1961.

Upon his death, the Lebanese collector bequeathed his villa to the city of Beirut as an art museum. He said he wished his “country to receive a substantial contribution of fine artworks” and his fellow citizens to “develop an artistic instinct”.

Updated: January 26, 2023, 6:10 AM