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Atrações, Museu, Máquina de Escrever, Museu Fernando Pessoa
©Gabriell VieiraMáquina de Escrever, Museu Fernando Pessoa

Things to do in Lisbon: 12 works of art you absolutely must see

From a Fernando Pessoa portrait to the Yogurt Cup won by Benfica, here are a few pieces you definitely should see

Written by
Time Out Lisbon editors
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Are you familiar with the properties of mummy dust? Are you ready to take a call with a lobster? If you don’t know what you’re missing in Lisbon’s museums, which are full of unmissable experiences, we break it down for you. Museum collections are full of treasures, and there’s something for everyone. We offer you a guide so you don’t get lost in museum halls, and tell you which artworks you should get to know.

Things to do in Lisbon: 12 works of art you absolutely must see

  • Museums
  • Belém

Museu Berardo – Belém

First stop: Museu Berardo. A godson of the King of England was hosting a dinner party when, suddenly, guests decided to engage in a food fight. Salvador Dalí was one of them, and he had a bright idea when he saw a lobster land right on top of a telephone. The idea wasn’t immediately successful. The piece was introduced in 1936 in New York, but was not selected for the first great Paris surrealist exhibition. Later, sponsored by the dinner host, Dalí produced ten telephone sets – four in black with the creature in its original colour, six in white. One of them has been part of the Berardo Collection since 1999.

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  • Attractions
  • Campo de Ourique

Casa Fernando Pessoa – Campo de Ourique

It may have been on this dresser, now kept in the Casa Fernando Pessoa, that the great Portuguese poet one night wrote the first poems for each of his main heteronyms: Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, Álvaro de Campos. “I wrote thirty-something poems in a row, in a sort of ecstasy the nature of which I will never be able to define”, Pessoa said in 1914.

  • Museums
  • Sete Rios/Praça de Espanha

Museu Benfica – Colégio Militar

Did you know Benfica was the 1960 underwater sports Portuguese champion? Or that in 1918 the club was visited by tenor Tito Schipa? And then there’s the Lisboa Popularity Lisboa Yogurt Cup, awarded to the club after a popular vote destined to elect the “most popular club”. The trophy was given to team captain Mário Coluna in a game against FC Porto in 1966.

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  • Museums
  • Estrela/Lapa/Santos

Museu da Marioneta – Santos

Puppets and water in the same sentence? Fear not. These puppets come from Vietnam, they are called Roi Nuoc and they do move on water. Actually, they’re manipulated from behind a bamboo curtain. These puppet shows used to take place in rice paddies, and were related to harvest cycles. Look for them in the Puppet Museum.

  • Museums
  • Estrela/Lapa/Santos

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga – Santos

A participant in the 1820 revolution, Sequeira was “either the first modern painter or the last of the old ones”. In his later years, exiled in Rome, he created a series of four paintings. Thanks to an unprecedented crowdsourcing campaign, Sequeira returned to its place: on the walls of Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.

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  • Museums
  • Estrela/Lapa/Santos

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga – Santos

There are more mysteries than facts about these famous 15th century panels. A 1910 restoration resulted in the publication of the first major analytical work, written by the first director of the National Museum of Ancient Art, where the panels continue to be displayed. José de Figueiredo attributed the piece to King Afonso V’s court artist, Nuno Gonçalves, and to the St. Vincent altar piece in Lisbon See.

  • Museums
  • Estrela/Lapa/Santos

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga – Santos

If there is a piece of art that draws crowds, this is it. It is also, believe it or not, among those that most linger in children’s memories. This triptych by Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch portrays Saint Anthony, the original hermit, and draws a stunning comparison between the temptations that haunt him and the trials of Christ.

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  • Museums
  • Lisbon

Fundação Amália Rodrigues – São Bento

Choosing among works by Maluda, Cesariny, Escada, Pedro Leitão, Eduardo Malta, Palolo or Cargaleiro is not an easy task. But if you had to pick one from the Amália Rodrigues House, it would be the portrait by painter Pinto Coelho (1942-2001), who immortalized the fado diva in 1990, when she was already in her seventies.

  • Museums
  • Chiado/Cais do Sodré

Atelier-Museu Júlio Pomar – São Bento

The piece was completed in 1942, during a four-month period in which painter Júlio Pomar, whose works were markedly political, was incarcerated. The artist donated it to the Lisbon Museum collection; it is currently in the Júlio Pomar Workshop-Museum.

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  • Museums
  • São Sebastião

Museu Gulbenkian – São Sebastião

How many portraits of poet Fernando Pessoa did artist Almada Negreiros paint? Two. After a first version, painted in 1954 for the Irmãos Unidos restaurant, a second painting was ordered ten years later by the Gulbenkian Foundation, where it can still be seen.

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  • Attractions
  • Avenida da Liberdade/Príncipe Real

Museu Arpad-Szenes-Vieira da Silva – Rato

A famous oil painting created between Lisbon and Paris (where painter Maria Helena Vieira da Silva lived). In Lisbon, Vieira da Silva worked in her Alto de São Francisco workshop, where she and Arpad Szenes spent a long stretch between 1935 e 1936. Spacial relations were a concern throughout her entire career.

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