The Top 10 Museums to Visit in Lebanon

Beirut National Museum | ©american_rugbier/ Flickr
Beirut National Museum | ©american_rugbier/ Flickr
Photo of Amani Sharif
Freelance Writer18 June 2017

Lebanon is as culturally rich as it is historical. Having been the site for numerous civilizations — from the Phoenicians to the Romans and then Ottomans — it is no surprise that historical treasures keep getting excavated in the country. Lebanon’s history of war is also the source of Lebanese identities, and has inspired art. Find out more about Lebanese history and culture at these top 10 museums.

National Museum of Beirut

Founded as a concept in 1919, the National Museum of Beirut stands tall as a monument in its own right. The actual building of the establishment took place in 1930. Until then, the artifacts were housed in another building in Beirut. By 1942 the museum had opened its doors, but in 1975 it was damaged by the civil war. The building was ruined almost to destruction as it was used as militia base. Its artifacts had to be kept in storage for 15 years. Restoration started in 1995, and in 1999 the museum once again opened.

Its collection includes items from the prehistoric era, the Roman period (64-395 CE) and up until the Mamluk period (635-1516 CE).

Museum Street, Beirut, Lebanon, +961 1 426 703

Exterior, National Museum of Beirut | © Elie plus/ Wikimedia Commons

Sursock Museum

First opened in 1961, Sursock Musem is a converted mansion dedicated to showcasing contemporary art. The museum became possible through art collector and aristocrat Nicolas Sursock’s love for art, and his view that artists needed the type of backing that an institution can provide. In 2008 the building saw expansive renovation, and today is still the place to be for art enthusiasts.

Greek Orthodox Archbishopric Street, Ashrafieh,Beirut, Lebanon, +961 1 202 001

Sursock Museum | © Bertil Videt, Flickr

Robert Mouawad Private Museum

Museum
Map View
Entrance and Gardens, Robert Mouawad Museum
Entrance and Gardens, Robert Mouawad Museum | © Steven Damron/ Flickr
Another home-turned-museum, the Robert Mouawad Museum has a distinctly European outer appearance. It houses a rich Arabic-style collection, prompted by owner Pharaon’s fascination with Arabic interior designs, prompted on his trips to Syria. First the residence became a “lived-in” museum, then the establishment became what it is today. The items on display, when first bought, were not meant to be housed in a museum, so there is no real order to how the historical pieces are arranged throughout the space.

Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut

Museum, University
Map View
The AUB Archaeological Museum is one of the oldest in the region, along with similar establishments in Cairo and Istanbul. It was formed in 1868, and houses items dating back to the Neolithic Era. The collections move visually from that time to the Islamic period (656 CE) and up until the Ottoman Era, in the 19th century. The museum is also involved in many renovation and excavation projects across Lebanon.

Gibran Museum

Dedicated to the historical Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran, this museum in his name provides a fascinating look into the writer’s life. Originally a monastery for monks seeking shelter in the 7th century and home to a hermitage site, the building opened its doors as a museum 1975. The writer acquired the building in 1926, as he wanted it as a home and then later as his tomb. In 1932 the contents of Gibran’s New York apartment were brought back to Lebanon and are now on display here.

Bsharri, North Governorate, Lebanon, +961 6 671 137

Gibran Museum | © Xtcrider/ Flickr

Beiteddine Palace

The palace is a museum and is one of Lebanon’s most famous houses. It’s the site for yearly music festivals and is always alive with activity. The rooms of the palace are full of historical artifacts and furniture. You can also tour the courtyards and historical residential suites.

Beit ed-Dine, Mount Lebanon Governorate, Lebanon, +961 5 500 077

Beit Eddine Palace | © Peripitus/ Wikimedia Commons

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