Beit Beirut, or the Yellow building, has been standing since 1924 when a Lebanese couple, Nicolas and Victoria Barakat, assigned the Lebanese architect Youssef Afandi Aftimos to design the building.
After surviving the Lebanese Civil War that lasted for 15 years (1975-1990), the Lebanese architect, Dr. Mona Hallak, fought for the building to not be demolished and to be turned into a museum and an urban cultural center. Unfortunately, it is not a museum yet, knowing that there is not a single museum that discusses the Lebanese Civil War. It will stay open as a center for art exhibitions and cultural events.
As you pass by Beit Beirut, you will see the neon sign “Photo Mario” in the Arabic language, with some portraits of unknown faces. This non-stop exhibition shall always be part of the museum, because Photo Mario was the studio of a neighbourhood photographer located on the building’s ground floor.
The city of Beirut needs a space that talks about the Lebanese Civil War in an objective manner. It makes it harder for Beit Beirut to come to life because there are various narratives from several political parties about the war that is shaping our current country’s state.