Lebanon Businessnews News

Sursock Museum restoration complete
To reopen this spring
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The Nicolas Sursock Museum, currently in its final restoration phase, is expected to be officially reopened within two months, according to Bilal Hamad, Chairman of the Beirut Municipality Council. He said that art exhibitions will resume at the museum by next fall.

Sursock, who died in 1961, bequeathed his villa to the City of Beirut. According to his will, the villa was transformed into a museum. Hamad said that since then, Beirut Municipality mayors have been the guardians of the property. The museum also has an internal committee which takes care of all administrative and follow up tasks. The committee is now headed by former Minister Tarek Mitri, succeeding former Minister Ghassan Tueini.

The new extension of the museum added four new underground floors beneath the current garden at a cost of $12 million. Hamad said that this sum was cumulated by deducting a percentage fee from each construction permit in Beirut.

The expansion project increased the museum’s surface from 1,500 square meters to 8,000 square meters. It introduced additional exhibition rooms, an auditorium, a library, a bookshop, and music room.

Restoration works were led by Jacques Abou Khaled, Senior Architect of JA Designs Architects and Designs, and French Architect, Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

The renovation preserved all distinctive art work and architecture of the museum. It also made sure to preserve its famous outdoor stairs, which was subject to much controversy when works were launched.

Abou Khaled said that research works of the project started in 2000, but it was in year 2008 that ground work kicked-off. “The renovation process faced many obstacles that delayed the finalization of the works.” The museum was expected to reopen its doors by 2012, but the country’s conditions held it back.

The Museum opened its doors in 1961 with an exhibit of works of contemporary Lebanese and international artists. The museum’s collection consists of 5,000 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glassware, and iconography, dating back to the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The pieces of art include works of Chafic Abboud, Rafic Charaf, Paul Guiragossian, Mohammad Rawas, Aref Rayess, Omar Onsi, and others. The museum was ranked number seven out of 112 things to do in Beirut by Lonely Planet travelers.
Reported by Rana Freifer
Date Posted: Mar 03, 2014
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