Hundreds of thousands of dollars of water damage at Lebanon’s National Museum has prompted officials to launch a fundraising campaign to repair the damage and rehabilitate the building’s infrastructure.
Flooding in November from ruptured pipes in the structure’s basement caused some $300,000 in damage to the museum’s infrastructure and artifacts, museum officials announced Monday. They said flood damage also raised humidity levels throughout the building, putting fragile artifacts at risk of deterioration.
Culture Minister Gaby Layoun said it was critical to repair the damaged area.
“These artifacts,” Layoun said, “are proof of our existence as Lebanese.”
The museum has a large collection of items from the area’s history, spanning back to antiquity and including items from the Bronze, Iron and Hellenistic periods.
“People should be aware of the importance of this museum,” Layoun continued. “We should all feel responsible toward it. What happened three months ago from the flood showed how our nation is vulnerable to disasters.”
Layoun said donations from a cultural organization and individual donors worked to guard the museum’s artifacts when the humidity spiked.
But the president of the museum’s foundation, former first lady Mona Hrawi, said the public needs to do more to save the building’s damaged areas.
The damage, Hrawi continued, was compounded by problems issuing from ruptured pipes.
“We have to rehabilitate [museum’s basement infrastructure] to make it suitable because there is a lot of humidity that we have to remove. All of the pipes have been destroyed,” said Hrawi.
“We have to work on all the infrastructure from the beginning in order to make it acceptable and to put all of the objects in order,” she said of damaged artifacts in the museum’s storage.
Located along what became the city’s Civil War-era Green Line, the National Museum suffered heavy damage during that conflict, including a sharp increase in humidity levels because the building was erected on the city’s water table.
Rebuilding the underground areas of the museum is the last stage of the structure’s repairs that began in 1995.
The museum is soliciting donations for the repair work, since addressing the humidity problems maybe exceed the current assessed cost. The foundation created an ad calling attention to the the water damage and has set up an a bank account for donations.
Hrawi said no donations had yet been received.
“Not yet,” she said. “I hope now they will begin today.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the National Museum repairs may do so via the museum’s Bank Audi account, using the routing number 315 885 461 30.