14.10.11

Silk Museum

Up until the 1950s, silk production was an important industry in Lebanon. But then there were wars, the invention of nylon, and China's development of year-round silk production. This combination had a devistating impact on silk production in Lebanon. These days, all that remains of the industry is the Silk Museum, just outside Beirut.

I had visited the museum once in 2005 but that was a very long time ago and I wasn't sure how to get there. Google led me to the museum's webside (linked above) which has a map, their opening hours, and a lot of information about the history of silk production in Lebanon. It's a good, useful website.

Our visit was very pleasant. The museum provides tours free of charge and without a previous appointment. It includes a brief video presentation. The museum is filled with hands-displays, including real, living silk worms and moths, plus all the tools needed to unravel the silkworm cocoon, gather the threads, and weave them into textiles.

A seperate section of the museum features rotating exhibitions of silks from many different culture and artistic traditions. In the past I saw a beautiful collection of chinese embroidery including robes and collars and shoes that were inspriational and unforgettable. On this visit the museum had an exhibition of amazing silk carpets, the private collection of the Maktabi family.

The museum is closed during the winter. When they reopen in the spring there will be a new temporary exhibit and I'm looking forward to returning to see what's next.

The best time to visit the museum is in May, because that is when silkworms are most active. We'll be going back for sure.

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful that there is a museum. I never knew there was silk production in Lebanon.

    We used to live next to a mulberry tree so my kids would raise a few silkworms in a shoebox, in the house. I hope you were spared that "pleasure."

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