The Museum as an Egalitarian Space?

Women artists in Beirut’s Sursock Museum in the 1960s and 1970s

  • Nadia von Maltzahn Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB)
Keywords: Beirut, Sursock Museum, women artists, Arab apocalypse, art salon


This article discusses the role of the Sursock Museum as a platform for the emancipation of women, and to what extent the Museum’s Salon d’Automne constituted an egalitarian space. Etel Adnan took part in two Salons, in 1964 and 1974. This paper will provide some context for the Beirut art scene in which she worked. The general institutional framework for women artists is highlighted before discussing the situation of women artists in Beirut’s Sursock Museum exhibitions of the 1960s and 1970s, the years Etel Adnan participated in the Salon. Brief portraits of four women artists show us that women artists were neither considered alike nor singled out for their gender. They treated very diverse subjects and styles, came from different social backgrounds and generations, and were often pioneers in their fields.

Author Biography

Nadia von Maltzahn, Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB)

Nadia von Maltzahn is the Deputy Director of the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB), currently on parental leave. Her publications include The Art Salon in the Arab Region: Politics of Taste Making, co-edited with Monique Bellan (Beirut: Orient-Institut Beirut, 2018), The Syria-Iran Axis: Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations in the Middle East (London: I. B. Tauris, 2013/2015), and other publications revolving around cultural practices in Lebanon and the Middle East. She holds a DPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from St Antony’s College, Oxford. Nadia’s research interests include cultural policies, artistic practices and the circulation of knowledge. Her current research project deals with cultural policies in Lebanon, in particular cultural institutions and their role in the public sphere. In October 2020 she will start a new research project entitled “LAWHA – Lebanon’s Art World at Home and Abroad: Trajectories of artists and artworks in/from Lebanon since 1943,” funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

How to Cite
von Maltzahn, N. (2019). The Museum as an Egalitarian Space? Women artists in Beirut’s Sursock Museum in the 1960s and 1970s. Manazir Journal, 1, 56–67.