Beirut explosion

With the ash not yet settled and the death count far from complete, perhaps it’s too soon to talk about what the August 4th explosion in Beirut, Lebanon has done to the art scene in that city. But the pictures are already coming out – art askew on walls, the clean lines of galleries made into rubble, shattered glass and blown-in doors littering the floor of museums.

The Sursock Museum, recently revitalized center of Beirut’s art culture, was hit hard. Just half a mile from the site of the explosion, the building has been structurally damaged.

“A lot of damage has been done to the structure of the building at a time when the dollar in Lebanon is so high that I don’t know how we will afford to buy new glass for the skylights, the windows and the exit doors,” said Zeina Arida, the museum’s director. “We don’t have the means to buy new materials.”

Arida was in the museum at the time of the explosion. None of her staff were injured, but dozens of works of art in their collection were damaged.

“It’s horrible to see five years of work in utter destruction—even during the civil war it wasn’t this bad,” said Arida.

Closer to the port, major art galleries like Marfa Gallery, Gallerie Tanit, and the Beirut branch of Opera Gallery have been completely destroyed. It is not yet known what has become of their staff.

Beirut’s art scene was already suffering, like her people, beneath a devalued currency, electricity rationing, and the worldwide crush of COVID-19, as well as the recent ravages of civil and international wars. Recovery is inevitable, for the people and the pastimes, but it will be slow.

If you wish to support the people of Beirut via the Lebanese Red Cross, please follow this link.
 If you wish to support the Sursock Museum, please follow this link.

Source: The Art Newspaper

Editorial credit: Alex Gakos /