|About the Collection rescued by UMAM
The demise of Baalbeck Studios near the end of February 2010 took the Lebanese almost by surprise. As one of the most famous audio-visual production hubs in the Middle East during the 1960s and 1970s, that renowned institution—and national treasure—suddenly and quietly ceased to exist.
UMAM Documentation and Research hastily mounted an on-site operation and rushed to 574 and 575 Mekalless (the premises of Baalbeck Studios and other remnants of the Intra Bank / Youssef Baidas Empire) in an effort to save several tons of documents (including written, film and audio records) and scores of other items from destruction and loss.
While UMAM D&R has not, and will never claim that the documents and artifacts it salvaged are its property, it took the lead in reclaiming and preserving a range of objects that not only help people revisit Lebanon's past, but also illustrate the Lebanese perception and management of their past. Moreover, it will continue to care for those items until Lebanon sees fit to establish a trustworthy state institution capable of protecting, preserving and sharing these memories of the country's past with everyone—from researchers to those simply curious about Lebanon's past. That is the least UMAM D&R can do.
UMAM D&R has certainly wasted no time since it acquired these archival fonds. It has been sorting through this trove of materials since 2011, first by utilizing its own skilled associates and later by engaging subject matter specialists whenever possible. The organization traced its efforts in a book, About Baalbeck Studios and Other Lebanese Sites of Memory, which it published in fall 2013. In it, UMAM D&R sought to narrate at least some of the chapters of Baalbeck Studios' groundbreaking history by examining some of the most noteworthy documents it retrieved and preserved.