From the Mesopotamians to the Impressionists and from old coins to European painting, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon covers an impressive range of periods and areas.
The pieces on display are of the highest quality. Calouste Gulbenkian built his private collection based on the advice of experts. One visit won’t probably be enough to see all the museum has to offer.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
The Egyptian room displays several statuettes and other objects from the Old Empire to the Roman Era. The Greek objects follow, including an impressive coin collection. Calouste Gulbenkian had a particular interest in the Islamic art. The several objects on display include carpets, fabrics, mosque lamps, painted tiles and ceramics.
Works of great masters of European painting from the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries include Rembrandt’s Pallas Athena and Portrait of Helena Fourment by Rubens. Part of the eighteenth century collection is Renoir’s Portrait of Madame Claude Monet and works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Thomas Gainsborough. Manet, Monet, Degas, Millet and Renoir are all represented among the nineteenth century works.
Elsewhere, you will find a section on European decorative arts with sixteenth-century tapestries from Flanders and Italy, as well as porcelain and furniture from the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The last room features Art Nouveau jewelry by René Lalique.
Modern Art Centre
Belonging to the Gulbenkian Foundation, and also sharing the gardens, the Modern Art Centre has one permanent exhibition focused on Portuguese modern art. For example, you can see works by Almada Negreiros, Paula Rego and Vieira da Silva.
The Centre also includes British artworks, acquired in the United Kingdom between 1959 and 1964, and recent works by contemporary British artists. Several temporary exhibitions are organised each year.
Designed in the 1960s by Gonçalo Ribeiro Teles and António Barreto, the gardens have been a reference for the Portuguese landscape architects. They are worth a visit. And if you have the time, this is a great place to have a picnic.
With several distinct spaces, hidden benches and sinuous walkways, as opposed to open areas and straight lines, the gardens celebrate the Portuguese landscape, creating a variety of atmospheres dominated by the light and shadow, the lake, or the floral scents.
During the spring and summer months, the open-air amphitheatre hosts numerous musical events and film projections, none bigger than the the annual Summer Jazz Festival “Jazz em Agosto”.
Opened in 1969, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum building is an important mark in the Portuguese museum architecture. Co-ordinated by the team of architects Ruy Jervis d’Athouguia, Pedro Cid and Alberto Pessoa, the exterior forms a rectangular parallelepiped set of concrete and granite in harmony with the surrounding gardens.
The building has an auditorium, an Art Library, a museum shop and a cafeteria.
Av. de Berna 45A (Museum) / Rua Dr. Nicolau de Bettencourt (Modern Art Centre), opening hours: 10am – 6pm, closed on Tuesday, 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 24 and 25 December, free admission Sunday after 2pm, gulbenkian.pt