Sursock Palace, Beirut
The renovation of the Sursock Palace’s collections and its
transformation into a Center for Culture, Education and Artistic dissemination
On August 4th 2020, an explosion of unprecedented proportions in peacetime in an urban setting, ravaged the port of Beirut and its neighbouring historic districts. This part of the city combines modern and contemporary architecture with older built heritage. It is this contrast, this urban palimpsest, that today defines the identity of the city of Beirut and its rebirth following the end of the civil war. In addition to the destruction of already fragile and endangered heritage sites, the explosion ravaged the art collections it contained. In spite of the immediate humanitarian emergency situation, the significant damage inflicted upon the Sursock Palace and its collections particularly shocked the inhabitants of Beirut and attracted widespread international attention.
The palace and its vast surrounding gardens have a strong symbolic value, representing one of the last surviving vestiges of the Golden Age of Beirut in the 19th century and, undoubtedly, its most remarkable expression. This palace is the most majestic example of a private house in Beirut, with its multitude of ceremonial rooms dotted around an extraordinary oriental dar which crosses the house from one end to the other, its wide galleries and its exceptional double spiral staircase. The extravagance of Ottoman decors is intertwined with the elegance of 19th century European styles, an eclecticism also reflected in the large collection of paintings, furniture and decorative objets d’art.
The house reflects the image of the family who made it its home since its construction in 1850. The Sursock Cochranes represent a living link between the East and the West, with ramifications stretching from Belfast to Constantinople (formerly) via Rome and Alexandria. The history of the family is intertwined with that of Lebanon and the whole region. This diversity of influences and this deeply rooted history, is what Lady Cochrane, who unfortunately succumbed to injuries from the explosion, wished to preserve in this green setting, unique in the heart of Beirut.
The current owners of the palace wish to undertake the restoration of the palace and its collections with a view to transforming what is now a private residence into a museum open to the public. This place of beauty, refinement and rich history would be shared with the Lebanese people and international visitors and will allow them to learn about and take pride in a Golden Age which they have the power to revive.
RestART Beirut will be offering the necessary technical expertise required for the entire project and the fundraising for its implementation. In conjunction with the urgent work that needs to be undertaken on the building itself, RestART Beirut will focus on mobilising sponsorship.
Based in Europe, RestART Beirut is the official international fundraising vehicle for the project, while also providing the necessary technical expertise required for its implementation.