Beirut Museum of Art reveals official name, BeMa

 (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The name of Lebanon’s newest art institution, Beirut Museum of Art, has revealed its official name. BeMa is spearheaded by The Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (APEAL), a non-profit organization dedicated to international quality programs that support art from Lebanon and the global art scene. An international architecture competition for the museum’s new building is currently underway, with the winning design to be selected by an independent jury in Fall 2016.

One of the most significant developments for Lebanese art and culture in a generation, BeMA is envisioned as a multidisciplinary hub of art and design dedicated to showcasing modern and contemporary Lebanese culture. Set to open in 2020, its collections and program are being developed with the aim of bringing together diverse populations and narratives from the region and beyond. Recognizing the many diverse communities that comprise its audiences. The museum’s Arabic abbreviation “بما” appropriately signifies “including”, underscoring a key element of the museum’s mission to be an inclusive place of dialogue. The name firmly situates the institution’s grounding in Beirut, without limiting its collection to any single nation, region or time period.

In the lead up to opening its doors, BeMA is already engaging audiences through a series of evolving programs. This March it launched an artist-in-residence program in Ras Masqa, Lebanon, with the contribution of Temporary.Art.Platform (T.A.P.). Through this first #RMAR residency, six artists – Ali El-Darsa, Youmna Geday, Raymond Gemayel, Ieva Saudargaité, Petra Serhal and Myriam Boulos – were invited to develop research based, site-specific and participatory projects. Designed to build bridges between the informal educational formats of artistic practice and the academic structures of universities, the artist-in-residence program coincided with a series of panels, lectures, and film screenings and was created in collaboration with BeMA and T.A.P., the Municipality of Ras Masqa, the Lebanese University – Institute of Fine Arts, Saint-Joseph University (USJ) and the Lebanese International University (LIU). Underlying BeMA’s commitment to engaging with artists and cultural institutions, #RMAR was curated by Amanda Abi Khalil, with the artist Roy Dib as artistic coordinator, and featured speakers from key Lebanese cultural institutions.

From April through June, BeMA will unveil “Works on Paper”. The program features 12 commissioned artist interventions to be published in four daily newspapers in Lebanon: Al Akhbar, Assafir, L’Orient Le Jour and The Daily Star. A unique way to support artists and engage with wide audiences, these interventions connect to BeMA’s core mission of providing a public platform with regional and global relevancy for Lebanese and regional artists.

Future programming includes artist publications, research and education initiatives, an online archive, and ongoing new commissions developed in collaboration with key local, regional and international partners. In the coming months the museum will announce further details about its collections and programming. The search for the museum’s founding director is currently underway.

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