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Lisbon’s vibrant and optimistic art scene.

If you are heading to Portugal this summer, take some time to look around Lisbon’s vibrant art scene. This is art in the more liberal sense. Music, ceramics, architecture, visual arts, food culture, moving image, textiles- all are on show and in current conversation. There are ways to save money on entrances such as the  Lisboa Transit card and look out for concessions. The prices for entry are not as expensive as most Capital cities but none the less it can add up if you hammering the sight – seeing! A lot of museums have a free day a month or even weekly so it’s worth checking as you plan your schedule.
In this blog I’m going to review a few places as visual arts as starting points, but there is much on-line that you can investigate and connect with. Sometimes opening times are quite different from the UK and well worth checking in advance. There is so much to see in and around Lisbon, so as I say here are a few starting points.
So, in no particular order and thinking about a broad spread of places to see from foundations to independents, here goes!  First is HANGAR, An artist led space that centres itself on research, it holds exhibitions, there are studios and residencies, seminars, workshops and other activities, even for children. It’s a great space with some good exhibitions, but it is worth checking what’s on and opening times.

THE BARADO COLLECTION (MUSEUM) is owned by Jose Barado, who is amazing at championing the arts, education, cultural heritage and so on. He has an extensive collection that covers the start of Modernsim, Arte Povera (excellent) and into now. His collection is open minded, lively and invigorating, in an amazing place, that also hosts events, music and other social activities. You will quite often find free music here and can sit under a tree and listen for free or buy a drink and relax. It’s worth looking on the website to see what’s on. Oh, and it has free admission on a Saturday!. This summer there is a collection of works by Charlottte Salomon which will be a must see. She produced an incredible amount of Guaches in a short, intense  time period, pre her arrest and murder at the hands of Auschwitz and Nazi Germany in 1943. https://www.berardocollection.com/?sid=42&lang=en
Another museum for a must see is the CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN MUSEUM.  This museum has ancient to present day collections and it is rich in dialogues and learning opportunities. It is huge and needs time to digest and importantly it houses the most complete works of modern and contemporary Portuguese art from artists  such as Vieira da Silva and Paula Rego (more of which below). Leave enough time to drift, browse and come back again. It’s a great place to go off season and when the weather is dodgy. The bookstore is good and the Gardens are lovely and some time spent here is a calming space after the frantic centre of Lisboa.

CASA Das Historias PAULA REGO, is a fabulous building in the cultural district of Cascais, it is not huge but important in its developing of the collection of the works of Paula Rego.
They have a wide variety of her work, works by her late husband Victor Willing, and an assortment of her personal effects and studio pieces. She donated a large collection of her etchings and drawings and paintings are on loan.  The museum works hard to bring facets of the work to bear and open up dialogues within the works for us to appreciate. I have seen many exhibitions here and each one has bought to the fore another point of view or situation. The train ride from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre train station is cheap and runs regularly, the journey is between 20 minutes and 40 minutes depending on if the tain is a stopping one or not. But the ride is along the coast and trains run until late. Cascais is beautiful and there are great city beaches if you take the coastal walk between Cascais town and Estoril, so you can mix some art loving and beach loving!
Get over to PADA in the BAia do Tejo, an industrial district, on the ferry boat they have exhibitions here, studios, projects and it’s an interesting area to visit, the industrial heritage is still very present and gritty or instead get a train to Barcerena (Oeiras)  to Fábrica do Pólvora. An amazing space outside of the city, that has a great restaurant (well – priced) for a lazy lunch, artist studios, theatre and a lovely park amidst the old gunpowder munitions factory. This is a cultural space that is off the beaten track, but with lots on (look it up before you commit), you might hit it lucky, and if not it’s lovely to explore as a hidden view into Portugal away from the tourist hotspots.
www.atlaslisboa.com is a useful site though not complete, it does have some good sections within it.
Above all if you are going to Lisbon, wander away from the tourists, catch buses, trams and trains and roam about. Eat, visit places as well as galleries (of which there are many), listen to great music and come back culturally richer and refreshed! What’s there not to like! Happy Summer’s everyone.

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Posted by author: Michele Whiting
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