The Culture Ministry’s latest cultural collaboration with the Italian Embassy Wednesday saw the launch of a comprehensive new guide to Beirut’s National Museum.
With text prepared by National Museum director Anne Marie Afeiche, and published in Arabic, Italian, English and French, the 256-page “Guide to the National Museum of Beirut” offers a chronological exploration of 75 artifacts and collections on show at the museum.
The guide is the final installment of the National Museum rehabilitation project titled the “Improvement of the Cultural Offer of the National Museum of Beirut: The New Display of the Basement,” which was implemented between 2014 and 2016.
“This important project highlights the commitment of the Italian investment in the restoration and conservation of the valuable and priceless Lebanese archaeological heritage preserved in the Museum,” Italian Ambassador Nicoletta Bombardiere said at the launch. “This project is at the core of the Italian contribution that made it possible in 2016 to reopen the museum’s basement to the public, which is entirely dedicated to funerary art from the Paleolithic period until the Middle Ages.”
The guide’s printing was supervised by the Culture Ministry with funding provided by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS Beirut) under the direction of Donatella Procesi. It was designed by Rosa Maria Iglesias Morsilli with editorial coordination from Rome’s Zowart Creative Agency.
In addition to the details of the individual items, the guide also includes a brief introduction to the various time periods and themes of the pieces, intended both as a practical tool for every visitor who wishes to discover or rediscover the museum, and as an informative souvenir to take Lebanon’s heritage abroad.
“Through the launch of this guide, we wish to reaffirm that preserving and valuing the collections of the National Museum, as well as many archaeological sites, is a priority within the framework of Italy’s cultural activity in Lebanon,” Bombardiere said. “The richness of the local archaeological heritage testifies to the dialogue between the civilizations that made up contemporary Lebanon, starting from the Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Arab eras and finally to the Ottoman Empire.
“Knowledge of the past and the promotion of culture are not limited to a single group of people,” she added. “Rather, it is the property of society and a focal point for consolidating a common history and for valuing quality tourism in economic terms as well.”
The Italian Embassy, AICS Beirut and the General Directorate of Antiquities will continue to collaborate on archaeological projects in Baalbek, Tyre and Sidon in the coming years in order to better preserve Lebanon’s heritage while making it more accessible to locals and tourists alike.
The 256-page ‘Guide to the National Museum of Beirut’ is available for purchase at the National Museum gift shop.