KESROUAN: The Lebanese Heritage Museum celebrated its second anniversary on Tuesday. The museum, the first in Lebanon to cover so many different eras and facets of Lebanese heritage, was inaugurated on September 5, 2003, and has since become a compulsory feature of the national history curriculum, as well as an essential site for school visits.

It has also been listed as a “first class museum” by the Culture, Education, and Tourism ministries.

The anniversary celebration consisted of a guided tour of the country’s eight historical eras, including Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Ottoman and today’s 20th century era, displayed across the five halls of the museum.

“The Lebanese Heritage Museum gathers historic, heritage and artistic symbols from Lebanese history,” said Michel Meiki, vice president of the museum’s founding committee.

“We had things that should have been exposed earlier,” said John Raidi, the president of the founding committee, explaining there had been rare documents not on display for the students to see, but that these were now out.

“We want to give Lebanese students an overall view of all the different eras,” he said.

Culture Minister Tareq Mitri began his celebratory speech by saluting the efforts that went into establishing the museum.

“What caught my attention was that the exhibition did not bias any period of Lebanese history over another. On the contrary, the museum tried to help visitors get introduced to different stages of our country’s history,” he said.

Emphasizing the importance of the role memory plays in uniting or dividing a people, Mitiri said: “Invented memories ignited conflicts between groups,” insisting that “nations cannot be built unless their citizens agree on what should be remembered together and what should be forgotten together.”

Commenting on the importance of the museum, he said “its contents are a renovated reading of our diverse history and its successive stages.”

Secretary general of the museum Sheikh Simon Khazen said there are plans to start a Lebanese contemporary art museum, once the museum is included in the Culture Ministry’s budget.

The celebration was organized by the Semaan Khazen al-Ehdeni Foundation, Sheikh Khazen, Dr. Massaad Boulos, Rosy Boulos and Mr. John Raidi, as well as other members.

Present at the ceremony were Gilberte Zouein representing Kesrouan MP General Michel Aoun and Farid Habib, representing Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.

Also present were General Ali Makki, H.E. Sheikh Wadih al-Khazen, and Mr. Ahmad Safadi representing Mohammad Safadi.