Press Release

UNESCO completed the rehabilitation of the iconic Sursock museum damaged by Beirut port explosions

11 May 2023

  • Beirut, 11 May 2023 – UNESCO announced today the completion of its rehabilitation project of the iconic Sursock Museum damaged by the blasts that hit the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020, after a €1 million funding from Italy. It is set to reopen its doors on 26 May 2023.


“With the LiBeirut initiative, UNESCO placed education, culture and heritage at the heart of the international efforts of recovery. After completing the rehabilitation of all damaged schools one year ago, we are proud to bring this iconic cultural institution back to life. The Sursock Museum is a gem of Lebanese architecture and cultural life, a powerful symbol of pride and resilience for the Beirut community,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director General.

The UNESCO rehabilitation project was supported by Italy, through €1 million funding from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS). Italian funds have been invested to complete necessary works related to lighting systems for the exhibition galleries, replacement of internal partitions, restoration of fire doors, glass walls and ancillary equipment, painting, waterproofing and lighting of the facade and the landscaping, in addition to the installation of electromechanical systems and solar energy panels to ensure green and sustainable energy consumption. The Museum had received direct support for the first phase of rehabilitation by France and ALIPH.

“The Sursock Museum, the first rehabilitation project launched jointly by Italy and UNESCO in the field of cultural heritage after the explosion, represents a key demonstration of our commitment to the recovery of Beirut, said Italian ambassador to Lebanon Nicoletta Bombardiere. We firmly believe that culture and the protection of heritage are more necessary than ever in times of crisis”.

Building on its 2015 Recommendation concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, their Diversity and their Role in Society, UNESCO has supported the museum in regaining its ever-increasing role in the city while stimulating creativity, revamping cultural life, providing opportunities for creative and cultural industries, and contributing to the material and spiritual well-being of both citizens and visitors. The Sursock Museum is set to reopen its doors on 26 May 2023. “The reopening of the Sursock will hopefully give yet another impetus to the cultural life in Lebanon”, said Tarek Mitri, Chair of the Sursock Museum.

Located in Ashrafieh, the Sursock Museum is one of the few landmarks and witnesses to the Lebanese architecture and mansions of the 18th and 19th centuries in Venetian and Ottoman style in Beirut. It is housed in the 1912 villa of Nicolas Sursock who donated it, together with his collections, to the Lebanese citizens, binding the use of the villa as a museum of modern and contemporary art. Inaugurated in 1961, the museum hosts in its permanent collection over 1,500 pieces including paintings, sculptures, tapestries and installations, in addition to more than 30,000 valuable photographs, postcards and manuscripts, from the Fouad Debbas Collection, among others.


More about UNESCO’s action in Beirut

Li Beirut is an international flagship initiative launched from Beirut by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, in the aftermath of the explosions, to support the rehabilitation of schools, historic heritage buildings, museums, galleries and the creative industry. In particular, UNESCO rehabilitated the 280 educational institutions damaged by the double explosion, mobilizing more than US$35 million.

Bechara Maroun

Bechara Maroun

Media Coordinator

UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Goals we are supporting through this initiative