Situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, at the village of El-Heri, in Ras Al Shaqa’, in the North of Lebanon stands the Nabu Museum. Named after the Mesopotamian patron god of literacy, the museum offers an exceptional permanent collection of Bronze and Iron Age artifacts representing Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Phoenician and Mesopotamian, and contemporary Lebanese cultures, in addition to rare manuscripts and ethnographic material. The museum’s collections also include examples of local, regional, modern and contemporary art by Lebanese artists such as Shafic Abboud, Amin al -Bacha, Helen Khal, Dia Azzawi, Shakir al - Said, Omar Onsi, Mustapha Farroukh, Ismail Fattah, Adam Henein, Khalil Gibran, Paul Guiragossian and Mahmoud Obaidi along with a unique collection of works by Saliba Douaihy. Notable in Nabu Museum’s collections is a unique selection of cuneiform tablets dating from 2330 to 540 B.C.E that includes literary works and extensive social and economic records, that together provide detailed and often new, information on the history and culture of the Sumerians and Babylonians of Mesopotamia.
The Nabu Museum building was designed in collaboration with Iraqi-Canadian artist Mahmoud Obaidi and Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi. The enveloping façade of the museum was fashioned of weathering-steel representing a monumental scripted relief based on a visual lexicon developed over their respective long careers in painting, drawing, sculpture, and print. The interior space of the museum is boldly conceived by Obaidi as a simple cube with a capacious open interior, easily adaptable for changing exhibitions. The museum also houses a library with an extensive collection of books on art, archaeology, history, and geography, along with a collection of rare manuscripts.
Whereas the Nabu Museum’s permanent collection provides a view of the extended history of the Levant and Mesopotamia, it also provides a comfortable working space for practicing artists. It fosters creative dialogue, enables a sense of social and political community, and promotes a creative atmosphere for regional artists, grounded firmly in local or more remote traditions, whose shared and contrasting influences would be reflected in their respective creations.
In a region of seemingly constant turmoil and strife, the Nabu Museum provides a tranquil space for the preservation and creative pursuit of art and culture. It is designed to act as an institution for preserving and promoting Lebanese culture, reaching out to local and wider communities through educational programs, organized tours, public lectures, and guided permanent and visiting exhibitions.