Disasters & Accidents

Beirut’s historic museum slowly comes back to life

By Noemi Jabois

Beirut, Jun 18 (EFE).- In a dimly lit workshop in southeastern Beirut, a group of workers are piecing back together wooden parts from the historic Sursock museum that was severely damaged in the August 4 port explosion.

Amid the hum of machinery, artisans from Maison Tarazi are working to recover a rose window in the building located some 800 meters from the ill-fated Beirut port.

“This is a process of restoration and reproduction at the same time,” Camille Tarazi, manager of the family workshop, tells Efe.

“We have the old frame that is still the same and we have the central part which has been completely done anew, but when we change the cover and the painting and all this you will not notice the old from the new,” she says.

The landmark palace in the heart of Beirut was built in 1912 by aristocrat and art collector Nicolas Sursock, who chose a traditional Lebanese architecture with Venetian influences.

Before his death in 1952, “he surprised everyone including his family and decided that his house would be given to the Lebanese people and transformed it into a museum,” the museum’s director, Zeina Arida, said.

Although Lebanon’s then president Camille Chamoun used the palace to receive distinguished guests such as kings and heads of state, in 1961 the Sursock family finally managed to fulfill Nicolas’ wish.

Decades later, between 2007 and 2015, the building underwent a major renovation and expansion after the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990).

The building’s first floor survived a century but just minutes after it closed its doors on August 4 last year, it was destroyed by an explosion that left more than 200 people dead and 6,500 others wounded.

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