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The Changing Role of Museums in the Middle East

The Changing Role of Museums in the Middle East
Co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute



Panelists Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art ( MoMA ) Peggy Loar, president of International Museum Planning Consultants and founding director of the new National Museum of Qatar, and Taline Boladian of APEAL (Founding entity of the Beirut Museum of Art), were brought together under the auspices of BeMA and the Middle East Institute in Washington DC on Monday April 29 to reflect on the changing role of museums in the Middle East.

Neda Ulaby of NPR Art Desk moderated the session and explored how Museums have been grappling with the problem of how to transcend their traditional role as preservers and protectors of cultural heritage and be more relevant to the cultural and socio-economic concerns of communities at a local, regional, and international level.
Boladian shared BeMA’s dual mission in creating a basis for the collective memory of Lebanon while offering the museum as an inclusive platform for fostering empathy, intercultural understanding and a safe haven for open dialogue. Lowry echoed these important thematic missions especially in the historical context of the region and its unique situation in the Middle East whereby there already exists an organic art world. Loar shared the difficulties of being both a local and international player, wanting to be an institution for and about the people while simultaneously attracting outsiders

BeMA had the opportunity to share its pre-opening programs to educate its denizens and support its artists, and its plans to create both a local and global institution, forging partnerships and pursing collaborative initiatives. Loar and Lowry were extremely supportive of the project, offering insights, and members of the audience were fascinated by the architectural structure.