Beirut Museum is not a large museum although its artifacts are impressive. About 1300 are exhibited from a collection of 100,000. How things are displayed and what gets displayed are things that I look for when I visit a museum. This is an area that we will be exploring in my upcoming winter course on critical museum studies. In the Beirut National Museum , objects are categorized into different time/historical eras such as Prehistory, Iron Age, Roman times and so on. I noticed that the section on Islamic artifacts was miniscule. I wonder whose decision this was? Obviously, this is a serious problem as there are many, many artifacts from the times of Islamic rule. The ROM in Toronto has a larger section of Islamic artifacts-and I was disappointed in their display on the Middle East. But here!? Good god/dess.
God is right. I also noticed that although there were numerous outstanding artifacts related to Astarte, Venus and other female goddesses, women, or fertility icons -- including some amazing thrones of Astarte -- in one section of the museum, the descriptive text on the wall explaining things used the word gods or god and focused entirely on a male history. This in the land where the Goddess ruled! Talk about re-writing history with language as the artifacts stare you in the face with their presence! I have to go back and take a photo of that text; it's been in the back of my mind making me angry. In my class we will discuss whose stories are left out and why.