Contemporary Art and Design Museums in Lisbon



The Arts




Lisbon has some wonderful museums featuring contemporary art and design.

In Belem, make sure to visit the Museu Colecao Berardo which is a really good contemporary art museum. It is a part of the Centro Cultural de Belem which is a large complex. The museum focuses on contemporary art from 1900 to the present. You will see works by Picasso, Miro to Warhol and Dubuffet. There are also temporary exhibitions of which I saw two while there. The Centro Cultural den Belem also has concerts, dance performances and other events.

Across from the Centro Cultural is the famous monument to discoveries which is sitting along the river showing Henry the Navigator and other Portuguese heroes associated with the Age of Discovery.

Mude/Museu do Design e da Moda, Rua Augusta 24: As I was walking north from the water through Baixa on Sunday morning I came across the Design Museum. It is located in an old bank building with its space having been left fairly raw. There were two floors of a permanent collection and two floors of temporary exhibitions. The permanent collection is really wonderful. You will see the best in clothing, housewares like Michael Grave’s famous teapot and furniture like the famous Eame’s chairs. There are items from France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, England and the United States. Having grown up in a mid-century house I love seeing all of the furniture from the late 1950’s. Everything was very attractively and well-displayed. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this museum and it was of my favorites this entire trip!

Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, Avenida de Berna 45: This is a museum housing the collection of  primarily decorative arts of a wealthy Armenian oil magnate. The contemporary building is very attractive and the collection contains a variety of pieces from Turkish pottery and ceramics, Chinese porcelain, rugs, furniture, paintings including a few by Monet, Renoir and Manet and Lalique crystal.

But what I enjoyed most, and the main reason I went, was the temporary exhibition: In The Presence of Things – Four Centuries of European Still-Life Painting. It was a wonderful exhibition of not only works from their collection but from museums in Paris and even the Metropolitan Museum in New York. There were works by Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Manet, Renoir and Picasso. I hope you will find a similar exhibition when you are there.

Centro de Arte Moderna, Rua Dr. Nicolau de Bettencourt: This museum is across the garden from the Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian and is run by the same foundation. It is located in a contemporary building with a focus on Portuguese artists from the turn of the 20th century to the present day. It is worth a visit as it is a short walk across the gardens. Both museums have busy cafes when you need a break.

Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporanea/Museu do Chiado, Rua Serpa Pinto 4: This museum, just a few blocks east from my hotel, is the leading collection of Portuguese art from the 20th Century on. There were only temporary exhibitions on display while I was there but it was worth the visit. There is a small café across the sculpture garden which was a great place to have a cup of tea after a busy day.