Basel Dalloul with works from his family’s art foundation.

Private Museum of Arab Art to Open in Beirut

The Beirut-based Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation is planning to build a new private museum dedicated to Arab art, Aimee Dawson of the Art Newspaper reports. The Beirut Arab Art Museum will be the latest addition to the capital city’s rapidly expanding cultural sector, where the Renzo Piano–designed Beirut City Museum is currently under construction, and the Beirut Museum of Art, a private nonprofit institution, will open in 2020.

“There is enough demand to accommodate them all,” said Basel Dalloul, managing director of the Dalloul foundation. “Lebanon is a cultural center in the region and it has always been considered that way historically. Downtown is the traditional hub of Beirut and it’s accessible [to] everyone.”

The 10,000- to 15,000-square-meter building will house the foundation’s collection of four thousand works. Dalloul’s father, the Palestinian businessman Ramzi Dalloul, bought his first artworks four decades ago, and he has since amassed one of the world’s largest holdings of modern and contemporary art from the Middle East. While the location for the institution is still being determined, Basel Dalloul said that it will be free to the public and will present temporary exhibitions and educational programming, and provide space for conservation and research. Once the museum opens in 2020, it will begin to look for international partners, such as the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In anticipation of the museum’s opening, an online database of the works in the collection will launch by the end of the year. Dalloul also plans to organize a series of popup exhibitions. “For years, people have only heard stories about death and destruction coming from the Arab world and forget that it is the cradle of civilization,” Dalloul said. “We’d like to show a better face of this part of the planet.”