Collection

To serve as the foundation of its exhibition, BeMA has secured the peerless trove of Contemporary and Modern Lebanese art held in trust by the country’s Ministry of Culture.

The comprehensive collection is comprised of 2358 pieces and includes the masterworks of almost 500 Lebanese artists dating back to the 19th Century.

Most of the collection which was generously donated by the artists at the time of creation, also includes a careful selection of pieces purchased by the Ministry during Lebanon’s annual Salon D’Automne.
The vast majority of the pieces are paintings rendered on canvas (approximately 1100) but the inventory also includes:
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 read in the Ministry’s collection. From the early 19th Century masters like Khalil Saleeby, who painted portraits with exquisite accuracy, to the Moderns like Khalil Zgaib, who brought village weddings to life through the use of bold, folkloric color and brave, 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 70 years as an independent nation, the breadth and depth of the spectacular collection is unparalleled. With over 1865 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 earlier works that will contextualize the collection, the narrative that unfolds at BeMA continues telling the story of Lebanese history and culture from the point at which the National Museum, which is just on the other side of the road, leaves off. Between them, the two institutions will tell a continuous story of Lebanese artistic and cultural heritage that spans six thousand years.

Currently spread across five sites - the Presidential Palace, the Parliament (Serail), the Presidential Summer Residence (Beiteddine), the UNESCO Palace and assorted Ministry of Culture offices - that are not all open to the public, the opening of BeMA will mark the first occasion that the collection, a source of national pride, has been assembled in one place for everyone to enjoy.