American Univesity of Beirut

The Rose and Shaheen Saleeby Collection

Saturday, February 26, 2022

One of the gems in the AUB crown is the Rose and Shaheen Saleeby Collection, which the late Dr. Samir Saleeby gifted to AUB ten years ago. This rich and extraordinary collection, which includes more than 60 paintings by leading Lebanese artists including Khalil Saleeby (a distant relative of Samir Saleeby), Omar Onsi, Saliba Douaihy, and Cesar Gemayel, was exhibited for the first time in 2012 when AUB celebrated the opening of the Rose and Shaheen Saleeby Museum, which is temporarily located on Sidani Street. 

AUB has partnered with a number of individuals and institutions over the years to preserve and promote the collection including Lucia Scalisi, who was senior conservator of paintings at the Victoria & Albert Museum for 11 years and worked to restore the paintings. In addition, the entire collection was appraised by Sotheby’s. 

The paintings in the Rose and Shaheen Saleeby Collection are especially valuable as many of them depict scenes from a distant past, providing all of us with a chance to learn and enjoy what we can no longer see with our own eyes. The paintings, which are the core of AUB’s permanent collection and have been enjoyed by many visitors at the museum on Sidani Street, are especially treasured by young artists. Some of the paintings have also been included in local, regional, and international exhibitions including Le Corps Découvert (The Body Revealed) at the Arab World Institute in Paris in March 2012.

Today, February 26, on what would have been his 96th birthday, we remember Dr. Saleeby – a visionary who believed in his country and AUB. We are forever grateful for his trust. As the son, brother, father, and father-in-law of AUB alumni, Saleeby had a deep appreciation for AUB. In his speech at the opening of the museum on Sidani Street in June 2012, Dr. Saleeby spoke movingly about his decision to gift his priceless collection to AUB. “For me,” he explained, “the collection is like one of my daughters. It has had many suitors over the years, but AUB was the only one I was willing to accept. I was confident that AUB would treasure and take care of my collection as it has been taken care of in my own home.” 

“As a father of three daughters myself, I was especially moved by Dr. Samir’s words on that occasion,” comments Vice President for Advancement and Business Development Imad B. Baalbaki. “All of us at AUB truly treasure this gift and the trust of the late Dr. Samir. We look forward to the day when we can establish a permanent home for this collection on the AUB campus.”​​​​​

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