Under the patronage and in the presence of the Lebanese Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, and at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture, the BeMA association, in collaboration with Saint-Joseph University in Beirut (USJ), laid the first stone of the Beirut Museum of Art – BeMA, at the site located on Damascus Road, opposite the National Museum of Beirut.
On this occasion, PM Mikati said, “Culture in Lebanon plays an important role in the establishment of an inclusive dialogue, which should unite Lebanon’s religious faiths and groups, in order to preserve our common history, our national identity and our belonging to this country…”
For his part, the Minister of Culture, Judge Muhammad Wissam Al-Mortada, stressed that “ BeMA represents an important milestone for the return of Lebanese cultural life to some sense of normalcy. In this museum, colours will greet visitors and tell them about the creations of Lebanese plastic artists.”
Joe Saddi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the BeMA Association, underlined that: “The choice of this particular moment for the laying of the first stone of this cultural edifice is no mere coincidence. We envisioned this museum as a place of cross-cultural encounter and dialogue. The BeMA Museum is not only an act of resistance and courage for an open Lebanon, but also a project that challenges violence, pessimism and frustration by and through culture. This also constitutes a necessary “ammunition” for building more open, creative and sustainable countries, cities and societies. »
An essential tool for civil society
BeMA is a non-profit, non-governmental association, founded in 2017 by Sandra Abou Nader and Rita Nammour, with the aim of building a museum of modern and contemporary art for the city of Beirut to become a cultural and educational center. The edifice will be built on a strategic and emblematic site opposite the National Museum of Beirut, which Saint-Joseph University has made available to the association. This private association is managed and financed by a board of directors of 17 members from the private sector, who are convinced that culture is a strategic asset for building inclusive, innovative and sustainable cities, which would strengthen the feeling of national identity.
The opening of the BeMA Museum is scheduled for 2026. Given that the public has become the world’s largest player in the museums of the future, the BeMA, through its building designed by engineer Amal Andraos, former dean of the Faculty of Engineering of the Columbia University in New York and special advisor to the President of the University, aspires to be contemporary in form and cultural approach.
The BeMA Museum was created with the aim of playing a key role in social life while being in harmony with its environment. It is an essential tool for civil society, and could contribute toward changing the cultural landscape, promoting freedoms and addressing humanitarian and social issues. This activity began with a vast and varied program launched by the BeMA association seven years ago in different Lebanese regions, with the participation of civil society, and the support of Lebanese artists and various cultural and artistic institutions, thus allowing art to be within everyone’s reach.
The BeMA Association has also set up a residency program for artists in a large number of public schools in Lebanon in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. BeMA’s Board of Directors is keen to ensure that this program combines the real and digital worlds; rebuilds bridges between the past, the present and the future; contributes to the preservation and development of Lebanon’s human heritage; and promotes research, communication, dialogue and innovation.
In that spirit, the BeMa Museum has signed an agreement with the Lebanese Ministry of Culture to conserve and restore some three thousand paintings and sculptures by the pioneers of plastic art in Lebanon, which are part of the modern and contemporary works of the collection, using state-of-the-art technologies, under the supervision of local and international experts. This collection which documents and represents the history and development of the Lebanese Republic, will be exhibited at the BeMA Museum after it opens its doors in 2026.
On this occasion, Sandra Abou Nader declared: “Art is not a luxury. Art is a tool for peace. Art is essential for the sustainability of our culture and our development, as well as for the quality of our life and our role in the world. Only the cultural and artistic imprint remains to evoke and document the history of civilizations and nations, regardless of the wars and troubles these have witnessed. The BeMA Museum aims to be a space for science, work, and culture. Through this museum, we aspire to a brighter and prosperous future thanks to a cultural heritage which constitutes a common wealth that should be protected for future generations.”
As for Rita Nammour, she considered that “today’s laying of the first stone of the BeMA Museum is the culmination of a journey we have embarked upon some seven years ago. The museum aims to serve as a platform for artistic, civic, and cultural education, in close collaboration with artists and cultural institutions. Today and more than ever, we are convinced that the museum must engage in a process of change and serve as a platform that takes into account the world in which we live and the values and principles that have made of Lebanon the beacon of the Middle-East.”
Courtesy of BeMA