With a consistent successful business background and a love for contemporary art and architecture, the entrepreneur Roger El Akoury, a genuine nowadays Maecenas, is the main player behind #MARe’s existence, the first Romanian private Museum focusing on recent art.
The project is an absolute extravaganza, in terms of investment, sophistication, scale and mission. Initially a private villa built in 1939, with famous political and diplomatic figures as residents during and after communism, the building was acquired in the late 2000 with the goal to evolve into a recent art public display. The dissolution of an historic building brought harsh comments. Yet the new 1200 sqm museum space, with most of its windows spaces covered in brick, it’s a very accurate metaphor of the times where Romania had closed borders and limited freedom of speech thanks to the propaganda elite living in the very same neighborhood, while its citizens had no choice but an inward approach to life, with subversive literature and art serving as decompression. With eyes wide shut, the building invite people to explore its five floors inner space, protecting from collective memory loss a part of the country’s artistic identity.
Hats off for Youssef Tohme, the Lebanese architect coming up with this poignant translation of troubled times into a statement-like edifice. The choice of a Lebanese company to design such museum seems at first just an easier choice, both because of the nationality’s owner and its involvement as a partner in YTAA, the architecture studio responsible for the final building’s look and feel. But when one looks at both Romanian and Lebanon troubled recent past, there are far more links between the ethos of the two nations, than the eyes can meet. For Roger El Akoury it’s not the first involvement in a project of a sort, since he is also the co-founder of the KA Modern and Contemporary Art Space in Lebanon. In the MARe’s very existence, Roger wore several hats, being the initiator of the project, a partner in YTAA and the owner for most of the art works displayed within the museum.