Mathaf al-Watani (Damascus)
Damascus, Syria

In 1936, under the direction and with the support of Henri Seyrig, Michel Écochard built a quite daring museum, without windows and featuring a system of indirect light distribution. The museum is located south of the Barada River and east of the Ottoman era Tekkiyye Suleimaniyye. The architect's one-storey design stood in stark contrast to the vertical lines of the Ottoman edifice. The new museum was custom-built for its collections, with special rooms to house the paintings of the Synagogue of Doura Europos and the reliefs of the Tomb of Yarhai from Palmyra, both excavated in the earlier years of the French Mandate. Construction work to incorporate the reliefs of the Umayyad palace of Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi onto the facade of the museum began in 1939, but was completed only after the Second World War. In fact, one of the features of the museum was its depiction of the Islamic period as only one of the many important eras in the history of Syria.




Écochard, Michel. Le nouveau musée de Damas. Paris: Office International des Musées, 1946. ( Mouseion 55-56 (1946): 107-143). Also available on Archnet in the typewritten version prepared by Michel Ecochard in Beirut in April 1945.


Heghnar Watenpaugh, "Museums and the Construction of National History in Syria and Lebanon,” in Nadine Méouchy and Peter Sluglett, editors, The British and French Mandates in Comparative Perspective. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2004. pp. 185-202

Damascus, Syria
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constructed ca. 1935-1940/1354-1359 AH
founded 1919/1337 AH
Variant Names
المتحف الوطني بدمشق
Mathaf al-Watani bi-Dimashq
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