American Univesity of Beirut

Another era for AUB Archaeological Museum as it sees new curatorship

​​​​​​​Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications,​

The AUB Archaeological Museum has been handed over to its new curator, Dr. Nadine Panayot, replacing Dr. Leila Badre who served as the museum's director for over 40 years.

The third oldest museum in the Near East, after Cairo and Constantinople, AUB's Archaeological Museum was established in 1868. It was first curated by George​ Post. ​In 1902, Post Hall, which holds the museum, was opened, and the museum soon became the destination that held artefacts and collections from all around the Middle East. In 2006, the museum's complete renovation and modernization was accomplished, with support from the Society of Friends of the Museum and a major donation from the Joukowsky Family Foundation. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2018, with a series of events, including an international colloquium with representatives from nine of the world's leading museums.

“We talked on opening day about the idea of being our brothers and sisters' keepers and part of the keeping of our brothers and sisters is keeping their human heritage, here, tangible. I can't think of any other place at AUB than this museum where history is so tangible," said President Fadlo Khuri in a ceremony honoring both current and former curators and attended by administration, friends, and members of the Society of the Friends of the Museum.

“Archaeology is the physical embodiment of our shared history and for 152 years now, this museum has been evolving towards that. Today we celebrate Leila Badre who has been an essential and foundational part of that shared history," added Khuri who thanked Badre for “maintaining and growing the museum, and making it not only accessible but essential for future generations and people of the region and the world."

Leila Badre has been the director of the AUB Archaeological Museum since 1980 and has become known as its ambassador and the face sure to be seen when visiting the museum or engaging in one of its events or activities. Badre's research and fieldwork in Beirut, Tyre, Syria, and more have advanced understanding of the region's past and present. She has cultivated AUB's archaeological collection under nine presidents to become a modern center of attraction that even offers a 360-degree virtual tour.

On June 12, 2018, Badre was honored for her years of outstanding service to AUB and the nation, with the National Order of the Cedar, Officer Rank, presented by Lebanese President Michel Aoun in a ceremony at the Presidential Palace.

“AUB museum has highlighted and proudly maintained the value of our heritage in spite of all the wars and explosions [it has witnessed]," said Badre. “In the words of the great architect Renzo Piano who has built many museums, 'a museum is a place where one should lose one's head.' We don't lose our heads here at the AUB museum, we gain them and we keep them on our shoulders very firmly."

During Badre's curatorship, over 220 lectures were hosted by outstanding lecturers worldwide, in addition to 20 exhibitions at AUB, another 20 international exhibitions abroad where the AUB museum was a participant, hundreds of children's programs, and many trips.

Badre thanked the Society of the Friends of the Museum, which she termed a valuable innovation, for their support over the years and for helping the museum be the first in the region to organize trips, children programs, gallery talks, and other activities. By the end of her talk, and with enthusiastic applause from the audience, Badre handed over the keys of the museum to Panayot.

Now curator of the AUB Archaeological Museum, Panayot is also an associate professor of practice at AUB's Department of History and Archaeology. She holds a doctorate in archaeology, classical Mediterranean and Near Eastern civilizations, from Paris 1 – Sorbonne.

“A superb scholar in archaeological history and a legacy at the University of Balamand, Nadine is coming home to now take charge of the museum," said President Khuri. “The passing of the keys is symbolic of the passing of a cultural heritage to a generation. Nadine, we look forward to your having a long and distinguished leadership of this museum. It is now your home."  

Prior to her appointment at AUB, Panayot was director of the research department of archaeology and museology and founder and chairperson of the Department of Museum Studies and Cultural Heritage Management at the University of Balamand (UoB). She was also the curator of the Ethnographic Museum at UoB since its inception.

“I take this opportunity to thank you for curating, maintaining, upgrading, and preserving this gem called the AUB Museum," said Panayot to her predecessor. “We promise today, on this occasion, that we will preserve what you have built and achieved and we will eternally be grateful for all the hard work that you have done over the years. Please rest assured that I shall remain faithful to your vision and your mission."

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