American University of Beirut

History of the Museum


​​​​​​The Early Years: 1868-1902

In 1868, two years after the founding of the university, General Cesnola, the American consul in Cyprus, donated the first gift of Cypriot pottery to AUB. Over the years,​​ the collection had grown extensively from donations, purchases and exchanges with other museums. Georges Post, Professor of Botany and Surgery, took charge of the Museum in 1870 and was the curator for all the university collections which included: Archaeology, Natural History, Zoology, Geology, and Botanic. Initially the archaeological collection was in one room of the Main Building (College Hall) before the construction of a Science Building encouraged by Dr. Post in 1899. Mr. Jessup offered $20,000 as an initial contribution in gratitude to Dr. Post for curing him on condition that the building bore the name of George E. Post. The building was completed in 1902.​

​​ ​           Archaeology Museum in College Hall 1892,                                  Post Hall Building 1902
              prior to the ​​construction of Post Hall             

Period: 1902 - 1938

During this period, the Museum acquired collections from Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Iran. The geographical variety of the collections' provenances distinguished the AUB Museum as a regional one in opposition to the National Museum. Today, the Museum provides a unique overview of the Near East from the Early Stone Age through to the Islamic Period.

   Archaeological, Geological,
Zoological and Botanical collections
  in Post Hall (1922-1927)
Museum 1927-1938​

​​​World War II: 1938-1948

​Mrs. Mary Bliss-Dodge undertook the responsibility of packing the entire collection to protect it from damage during World War II , and moved them to a safer place in Van Dyck Hall. The museum’s galleries were then used as stores for food supplies throughout the war and remained closed until 1948, when Mrs. Mackay reorganized the collection for the UNESCO meeting in Beirut that year.​

        Museum collections after World War II

​​​​​Expansion: 1950s-1964

In 1956 the AUB Trustees secured funds to double the Museum space and buy new equipment. In this year, museum curator Dr. D.C. Baramki organized the rehabilitation of the ground floor of Post Hall to be entirely dedicated to the Archaeological collection; the Natural History, zoology and botanic collections were moved to the Department of Biology,
and the Geology collection to the
Department of Geology.​
Thanks to Dr. D.C. Baramkis' efforts the refurbished and expanded Museum was reopened to the public in 1964. ​

Museum in 1964​

Complete Renovation: 2006

During the crisis years of Lebanon (1975-1990) the AUB Museum remained the only museum opened in the country.

Since 1999, in view of modernizing the Museum, the director of the Museum Dr. Leila Badre undertook its complete renovation. 
The introduction of the construction of a Mezzanine added twenty per cent to the exhibition space. As a result, the new Museum galleries of approximately 400m2 house its collections of over 2858 ancient objects.  In addition to a new thematic treatment and more “visitor-friendly" layout, significant technical improvements have also been made. These include modern display cases and state-of-the-art systems for lighting, fire detection and climate control in accordance with international museum standards.

The necessary funds for the renovation were secured by the Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum along with a major donation from the Joukowsky Family Foundation.

The museum reopened on June 2, 2006.

 The interior of the renovated Museum 2006

​From left to right: Donner Mrs. Joukowsky,
Pres. Waterburry, P.M. Siniora, Society President Mrs. Junblat and Museum director Dr. Badre.
Opening ceremony.
​ ​Crowd in front of Post Hall during the reopening ceremony




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