The Gulbenkian Museum (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian) is situated just north east of Parque Eduardo VII. The easiest way to get their is to jump on the metro blue line at Baixa-Chiado up to São Sebastiao. Once you exit, walk up the main road (Avenida AntOnio Augusta de Aguiar). The Gulbenkian gardens run on your right hand side but you need to walk down almost to the first corner to find an entry point.
The Gulbenkian comprises a modern art gallery and a seperate main building which is the museum. They are set within beautiful landscaped grounds which I also recommend exploring.
My first point of call was the Modern Art gallery. I’m the kind of person who likes to visit museums and galleries but at the same time I don’t tend to hover around exhibitions I don’t feel drawn to. I’ll just keep on walking until I find something that really captures my attention. At times, as my friends will no doubt attest to, it’s meant I’ve walked right in and right out again!
Luckily at the time, the exhibitions in the art gallery were fascinating and I was entraced by one particular installation by an Romanian artist Mircea Cantor. The installation is called Deeaparture (that is the spelling) and can be viewed on You Tube here. There were also some huge arresting photo’s by Pieter Hugo on his exploration of the The Hyena Men of Abuja. I found them both beautiful and disturbing and the images have stayed with me long after my visit.
After viewing the exhibits in the art gallery, I made my way across to the main Gulbenkian building. Normally it would cost 7 Euro’s for entry into both but as I went on a Sunday both were free. Despite there being lots of people, the museum was extraordinarily quiet. The building itself is modern and spacious and contains a wealth of treasured items to be seen. The collection was created by one of the richest men of the 20th Century named Calouste Gulbenkian who donated his entire collection to Portugal when he died. Gulbenkian seemed to have an eye for many different era’s and cultures so the collection comprises items from Egypt, the Far East, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and more. Paintings range from pre-Raphaelite to impressionist and includes artists such as Turner, Monet, Burne-Jones, Rembrandt and Rubens. I think my favourite pieces were those in the Egyptian and Islamic collections and the Diana statue by Jean-Antoine Houdon which apparently caused a stir when he completed it due to her being nude. I guess they were more easily shocked way back when 🙂
Back outside in the sunshine, I took a long walk through the delightful gardens that surround the museum and spent some time quietly sitting in the amphitheatre there. Throughout the park are sculptures including work by Henry Moore. There’s a small man-made lake complete with ducks and shady copses where you can watch the dapple of the sun play. Birds, bees and butterflies are all around. It’s a lovely place to spend an hour and recharge your batteries.
For more information about the musem and it’s collection visit the official website.
Price: 7 euro’s for a combined museum and gallery ticket. Sundays are free.
Av. de Berna 45A
1067-001 Lisboa Codex
Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5.45 p.m.
Closed on Mondays, and on January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, December 25
Links to artists mentioned in this post: