By Time Out Lisbon editors
Posted: Monday June 26 2017
From Classical art to Modernism, from historic palaces to buildings designed by contemporary architects, here’s a brief guide to the the best Lisbon museums.
There is painting, sculpture, Portuguese decorative arts and Asian or African art (that take you back to the Portuguese Discoveries era) from the Middle Ages to the 19th century: there are more than 40 thousand pieces to see at this museum, which has national treasures and renowned works of art. Don’t miss the painted porcelain, the fine jewellery, and the grand São Vicente’s panels, on display at the fantastic rooms of this late 18th century palace.
See The light and the charm of Venice through Canaletto’s painting (or Giovanni Antonio Canal’s), The Grand canal from the campo San Vio, on display until July 2nd.
Time travel, galloping, into what is considered the most visited Portuguese museum ever. It has a new building since 2015, a wide and modern place, where you can see the carriages, the coaches, the pushchairs and strollers, and other vehicles on wheels – like the one with bullet holes: yes, the same that carried D. Carlos and his heir son D. Luís Filipe, both murdered in Terreiro do Paço in 1908. The royal’s life is told among these velvet seats. The museum, at its original location, the Picadeiro Real – just a few yards from the new location – was inaugurated 112 years ago by queen D. Amélia de Orleães and Bragança (a French princess who married a Portuguese king).
See Retrato de um aggressor is the plastic art exhibition that brings something completely different to the museum and that’ll be on display until July 31st: it’s about gender violence issues.
This collection has about 6,000 pieces, but only 1,000 or so are part of the permanent exhibition. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum opened its doors in 1969 and is part of the foundation of the same name. It is divided into two independent areas: one dedicated to oriental and classical art; the other to art of European heritage.
See Portugal em Flagrante – Operação 1, 2 e 3, a semi-permanent collection that narrates, throughout its three floors (designs, paintings, and sculptures) the history of art and culture in Portugal from the beginning of the 20th century until the present day with the fundamental works of its artists.
Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, Neo-Dada or Pop Art. Don’t be intimidated and trust your senses. Museu Colecção Berardo collects colourful art of all shapes, sizes and textures, from paintings to installation art, with the ability to communicate easily. It’s through the works it presents that the history of art and its timeline, from the 20th century to the present day, is told. Boldness and exuberance are the adjectives of this permanent exposition, which features Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol or Helena Almeida’s works. Integrated into Centro Cultural de Belém’s building, the museum was baptized with the name of its collector, the madeirense Joe Berardo.
See Pablo Picasso’s Femme dans un fauteuil (métamorphose), valued at 18 million euros, it’s one the most valuable pieces of this collection.
A national monument since 1910, Ajuda is a former royal residence turned museum of decorative arts. It offers guided tours and hosts exhibitions that take people on a journey through history. To understand the origins of this palace, we need to go back to 1755, when the royal family was staying in its Belém residence and the great earthquake happened. After that, King Joseph I refused to return to 'brick and limestone' buildings. The solution was to choose a new, safer house. And it’s easy to understand why they ended up at the Palace of Ajuda.
Whether seen from the top, the side or from the inside, Lisbon’s new cultural space is a guaranteed jaw-dropper. The beauty and elegance of the structure, projected by the British architect Amanda Levete, matches perfectly with the modern and dynamic interior that promotes contemplation and dialogue about the works of art produced since the mid 20th century: over 250 national artists are part of this collection. The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology invites artists, architects and intellectuals alike to think about the subjects and the tendencies of contemporaneity – inaugurated in October 2016, it intends to present over 20 new exhibitions per year.
See Utopia/Distopia, that uses Thomas Moore’s most iconic book’s 500th anniversary as an excuse to discourse about the state of things with the help of over 60 works of art (until August 21st ).
It’s right at the centre of the commercial commotion and that’s why it’s the best place to give consumerism a break. Built where the old São Francisco da Cidade convent used to be, the museum has a prized and diverse collection, which reflects the movements and the artists from the second half of the 19th century and how it evolved – this means that you cannot only learn from Romanticism, Naturalism or Surrealism through paintings and sculptures, but you can also admire the videos and installation of Portuguese artists.
See A Sedução da modernidade, on display until April 15th of 2018. The paintings and landscapes are determinant for you to think about this particular epoch when the paintbrush was the chosen instrument for boldness and provocation.