The art treasures of the oil magnate
Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian was a British citizen of Armenian origin who spent the last years of his life in Lisbon. Successful in the oil business, he acquired an art collection of over 6000 works over the decades. The entire property of the art-loving businessman was transferred to a foundation after his death in 1955.
The special architecture of the museum in the center of Lisbon is worth a visit in itself. The plans for the building, which was to house the extensive collection of works from all over the world, were drawn up by the well-known and award-winning Portuguese architect Alberto Pessoa and his team.
A journey through the history of art
Part of the collection are art objects from almost all epochs of art history. Gubenkian’s passion for collecting extended to Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Islamic, Far Eastern and Armenian art. From antiquity to the early 20th century, visitors can expect to see valuable art objects such as paintings, sculptures, exhibits of letterpress printing, as well as coins and a collection of jewels by the Art Nouveau artist René Lalique .
Tours through the world of art
The collection is presented to the visitor in geographical and chronological order.
Two tours lead through the world history of art: on the oriental path, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Islamic, Armenian and Far Eastern works await the art lover.
The second tour is dedicated to European art. Sculptures and paintings by world-famous masters such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Renoir, Manet or Degas can be found here, as well as special examples of letterpress or decorative arts.
A dialogue between classic and modern
In addition to the permanent collection, exhibitions with special thematic focuses are held regularly. Frequently, the Museum Calouste Gulbenkian and the neighboring Museum of Modern Art, the Centro de Arte Moderna, enter into an exciting dialogue. Interactions between the works in the Foundation’s collection and modern art broaden the view of art historical developments and contexts, taking the viewer on a true educational journey. Temporal and geographical boundaries are overcome in this way.
A special place
Saturated by the manifold impressions of art objects from all over the world, a special place awaits the visitor after his visit to the museum: the aesthetically designed garden surrounding the building invites to relax and reflect after the enjoyment of art. It is one of the most important gardens in Portugal, whose design – as is also visible in the architecture of the museum – reflects traits of the collector Gulbenkian.
The businessman, philanthropist and art lover was an admirer of creative power, spirituality and simplicity. The enchanted garden invites the viewer to dream, pause and gather strength. The sensual pleasure is completed by a visit to the amphitheater, designed according to ancient specifications, where concerts can be heard regularly. A feast for the senses!
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, with its extensive collection of exceptional art objects, is highly regarded in international art circles. A visit to this special place will remain in the memory of every art lover for a long time.