Delegates visiting Lisbon this October will find some great museums in the city
Lisbon’s newest museum, the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), sits on the shore of the Tagus River like a giant half-opened clam. The work of Amanda Levete, a Stirling Prize-winning British architect, the building is partially underground, and its roof is an upwardly sloping piazza from which to enjoy marvellous river views.
Sharing the riverside campus, and now part of the MAAT, is the old Tejo Power Station. Its historic electricity-generating machinery remains, joined by four new white-box galleries. Under the curatorship of artistic director Pedro Gadanho, formerly with New York’s Museum of Modern Art, MAAT’s ‘soft opening’ was in October 2016.
The museum will be fully functioning by mid-2017. Plans for the future include a footbridge over the highway to link the MAAT to downtown Belém, as well as a restaurant and a park. The MAAT is closed on Tuesdays.
For further details check the MAAT website: www.maat.pt/en
A 10-minute walk inland from the MAAT are the new premises of Lisbon’s famed National Coach Museum. In May 2015, after more than 100 years in the royal riding school, the collection moved diagonally across the street to a starkly modern concrete structure designed by Pritzker Prize winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha.
The collection includes elaborate vehicles, dress uniforms, harnesses and cavalry accessories that were principally for the use of the Portuguese royal family, but the standout is the Coche dos Oceanos (Oceans Coach) which King João V sent to the Pope in 1716. Follow your visit with a drink or a light meal on the terrace or indoors at the museum’s cafe.
Browse the museum shop and then cross over to the old riding school. Although all but a few of the exhibitions have been moved to their new accommodation, the old, highly decorated hall and portrait gallery are open. A combination ticket admits you to both.
The Museu Coleção Berardo, inaugurated in 2007, is located at the Exhibition Centre of the Centro Cultural de Belém, next to the cathedral. The superb collection of over 1,800 works of modern and contemporary art was amassed by Joe Berardo, a Portuguese businessman and one of the wealthiest people in Portugal. Some 250 artworks are exhibited at any one time, over two floors of galleries.
The collection includes paintings by artistic giants such as Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon along with two Picassos. Open every day, 10.00-19.00. General admission is free, though temporary exhibits may require a ticket.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is the undisputed star of Lisbon’s museums. It’s home to a treasure trove of some 6,000 works of art collected by the Armenian billionaire whose motto was ‘only the best’. The collection ranges through time and across borders – some of the work was acquired during the Soviet sale of Hermitage paintings.The museum’s landscaped park, main building and the neighbouring but lesser-known Modern Art Centre were designated a national monument in 2010. English language guided tours of works in the ‘Founder’s Collection’ are included in the price of a ticket and do not have to be pre-booked. Tickets can be bought online. São Sebastião is the most convenient metro station.
In the early 1900s, the ophthalmologist Anastacio Gonçalves, influenced by his friend and patient Calouste Gulbenkian, began acquiring fine art. In 1935 he bought a neo-romantic house from the artist José Malhoa in which to exhibit his finds. On his death in 1964, his extraordinary collection and the house in which it is displayed were bequeathed to the Portuguese state and became the present ‘house-museum’.
In addition to paintings by Portuguese artists including Malhoa, the museum showcases Chinese ceramics from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Casa-Museu Dr. Anastacio Gonçalves (www.blogdacmag.blogspot.pt) is at Av. 5 de Outubro, 6-8, near the Saldanha Metro Station. Open on Tuesday 14.00-18.00, Wednesday to Sunday 10.00-18.00.
The Pavilion of Knowledge is a happy legacy of Expo ’98. An interactive science museum near the Oceanarium in the Park of Nations, it enchants and intrigues people of all ages. Many of the world’s major scientific institutes contribute to the thematic presentations which change from time to time. On a recent visit options included riding a counter-weighted bike on a high wire suspended over a gallery (full disclosure: there was a net), confronting challenging optical illusions and solving brain-teasing puzzles. Website: www.pavconhecimento.pt