In the past and even until now, one indicator of someone’s affluence is his grandiose collection of authentic art. So if you were to encounter Calouste Gulbenkian, a businessman who had amassed more than 6,000 pieces of art from different parts of the world, you would know that he was well heeled.
Lisbon, Portugal was graced to be the cradle of the late Calouste Gulbenkian’s art collection. After years of discussions on where to house them all, “Gulbenkian’s children” (as how he regarded his art collection) found home in Portugal, under the roof of Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is one of the many must-visit museums in Lisbon, Portugal. It nests inside Parque de Santa Gertrudes in Palhavã, a 7.5-hectare garden.
The museum’s blueprint was a brainchild of three great minds –– architects Ruy Jervis d’Athouguia, Pedro Cid, and Alberto Pessoa, who won the limited competition held from 1959 to 1960. They intelligently integrated all the required elements for building the museum. They ensured that the building’s features reflect Calouste Gulbenkian’s personality.
The Treasures Inside
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum showcases both the Founder’s collection and Modern collection, housed separately in two major buildings entwined by the garden.
The Founder’s collection –– or the over 6,000 collections of Gulbenkian –– includes Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, Eastern Islamic, Armenian, and Far Eastern masterpieces. The Founder’s collection is more than just an assortment of paintings. It also includes sculptures; decorative arts; René Lalique’s jewelries and glass designs; and illuminated manuscripts, printed books, and bindings. This collection will surely take you back to ancient times as old as 2,500 B.C.
The Modern collection, on the other hand, is a hodgepodge of Portugal’s modern and contemporary art. This collection offers you a glimpse of Portugal’s history from the early 20th century as well as present-day art discoveries. It brags the workmanship of hundreds of renowned artists including Paula Rego, Vasco Araújo, and Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.
You may visit the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum any day of the week (except Tuesdays) and lavish your eyes on the permanent exhibition. Aside from the permanent exhibition, temporary exhibitions are also held in the museum throughout the year. Temporary exhibitions showcase contemporary artists and their collections.
To maximize your experience, the museum offers guided tours in English and other languages every Monday at 10:30 and every Saturday at 11:00 in the morning. You can also bring your fellow art enthusiasts and avail of guided tours for group visits. This, however, requires that you book your visit two weeks ahead. The museum also welcomes school visits and off-hour tours like from 6:00 to 8:00 in the evening. Tickets are available online and offline right at the museum.