This turmoil has not deterred Tony Salamé, a Lebanese retail magnate, from investing in a large-scale private foundation modelled on those in Europe, the US and, increasingly, Asia. Nor has it stopped the non-profit organisation Apeal—the Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon—from launching an ambitious private fundraising campaign to build a museum of Modern and contemporary Lebanese art in central Beirut by 2020. The design competition launched on 1 October; the architect Zaha Hadid is on the jury along with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones of London's Serpentine Galleries.

Salamé, who founded the Aïshti fashion chain, invested $100m in funding a contemporary art museum, designed by the British architect David Adjaye, in Jal El Dib, a coastal resort near Beirut. The Aïshti Foundation building, which is due to open on 25 October, will show works from his 2,000-strong collection. The inaugural exhibition is organised by Massimiliano Gioni, the artistic director of the New Museum in New York. ... A new commercial contemporary art gallery called Marfa will also open in the port of Beirut on 22 October.


The government has agreed to loan Modern works by Lebanese artists from its 1,600-strong collection to Apeal’s proposed museum. It is also involved in several public-private initiatives, including the $13m expansion of the Sursock Museum, which is due to reopen on 8 October after a seven-year refurbishment. The institution, housed in an Italianate mansion donated to the city by the late collector Nicolas Sursock, manages a collection of more than 800 works dating from the late 1800s to the early 2000s. ... The Italian architect Renzo Piano has been commissioned to provide a masterplan for the redevelopment of Martyrs’ Square in central Beirut, funded through both public and private investment. The scheme includes two institutions: a new archaeological museum called the Beirut City Museum, which Al-Qassemi says has secured $30m in funding from Kuwait, and the Museum of Civilisations, to be designed by the Lebanese firm GM Architects. “One may wonder whether all this is happening perhaps a little too fast and with little oversight and co-ordination,” Al-Qassemi says.