Eleven museums were taking part in the 3rd edition of “Museums Night” (“La Nuit des Musees”) yesterday and opening their doors from 5 PM till midnight. The tours started at 5 sharp and free shuttle service was available for museums in Beirut every 30 minutes at specific stops.
I was a speaker at Talk20 yesterday at AUB so I thought it would be a good idea to drop by a couple of museums around 9-10 PM that way traffic wouldn’t be that bad. The first stop was at the National Museum and I was surprised to see so many people queuing to enter the museum, and the queues were as big for Nicolas Sursock and MIM, Le Musée des Minéraux in Achrafieh. I was positively surprised by the turnout and it was great seeing all these families and more importantly children eager to be part of that night but the overall experience could have been much better for 4 key reasons:
1- Timing was bad: “La Nuit des Musees” should have been on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon rather than a Friday night. Traffic was hell and it took me an hour to get from AUB to Sursock at around 9 PM.
2- No Parking spaces: I think no one expected that many people to show up but parking lots and transportation should have been better organized. I ended up parking 1K away from the National Museum and walked mostly on the highway (no side walks) to get there.
3- No Lines & Not enough security guards: Our museums hold very unique and rare historical pieces that should not be touched by any visitor but that wasn’t the case yesterday and the blame is first on the parents and second on the lack of guards. I wasn’t as pissed as Patyl on that matter but seeing all these kids (with their parent’s approval) put their fingers on a 2,000-year-old piece was quite frustrating.
4- The smell: No one is to blame here but our rotten government (not the Ministry of Culture though). The garbage smell was terrible, just terrible!
All in all, I think last night was a great success and I’m really glad a lot of Lebanese took part in it. We need more initiatives like this and on a more regular basis.
PS: Pictures via Jimmy