As a Foundation for its Exhibition, BeMA has Secured a Trove of Contemporary and Modern Lebanese Art Held in Trust by the Country’s Ministry of Culture
The comprehensive collection of over 2,400 pieces comprises the masterworks of almost 500 Lebanese artists dating back to the late 19th century.
Consisting mostly of artwork generously donated by the artists themselves, the collection also includes handpicked pieces purchased by the Ministry during Lebanon’s annual Salons. The vast majority of the pieces are paintings rendered on canvas (approximately 1100).
The earliest works are by Daoud Corm (1852-1930) and the latest were created in 2015
The history of the country and its people can be traced through the Ministry’s collection. From the early 19th-century masters like Khalil Saleeby, who painted portraits with exquisite accuracy, to the moderns like Khalil Zghaib, who brought village weddings to life through the use of bold, folkloric color, right through to contemporary figures like Yvette Achkar and Shafic Abboud, who experimented with abstract expressionism, as you watch Lebanese art evolve, it becomes clear that it was very much part of the global discourse on art history and trends.
Assembled over the course of Lebanon’s 79 years as an independent nation, the breadth and depth of the spectacular collection are unparalleled. With over 1,865 artworks from the 20th century alone, it covers a vast array of subjects and includes works by all of the important modern masters.
360 works on paper, 130 sculptures, and 13 photographic works
With a small area dedicated to the earlier works that will contextualize the collection, the narrative that unfolds at BeMA picks up Lebanon’s history and culture from the point where the National Museum, across the road, leaves off. Between them, the two institutions will tell the full story of Lebanese artistic and cultural heritage that spans six thousand years.
Currently spread across five major sites – the Presidential Palace, the Prime Minister Palace (Grand Serail), the Parliament, the Presidential Summer Residence (Beiteddine), the UNESCO Palace, and assorted Ministry of Culture offices – that are not all open to the public, the collection, a source of national pride, will be assembled for the first time ever in one place, at BeMA, for everyone to enjoy.