Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

Displaying artwork that ranges from as far back as 1860 BC to the early 20th century, the Gulbenkian Museum is a true treasure in the city of Lisbon. The collection of artwork housed in the museum was donated by philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian as part of his last week. The Gulbenkian Foundation was established in 1956, just one year after the philanthropist's death in order to continue his support of science, education, the arts, and social welfare.

A completely modern museum was constructed to house the art collection in 1969. Containing approximately 6,000 superb pieces of art that were chosen by Gulbenkian during his lifetime, the collection features a wide array of objects, including ceramics, tapestry, sculpture, paintings, and glassware. The collection is housed in well-lit rooms situated along two different circuits.

The first circuit is devoted to Classical and Oriental art as well as objects that hail from the Far East and Middle East. Highlights of this circuit include a Greek vase, Egyptian scarabs, Assyrian bas-reliefs, Roman jewelry, Chinese porcelain, Persian tapestries, and paintings from Japan.

In the second circuit, visitors are able to enjoy an array of European art, including 18th century French furniture and paintings from French, Italian, and Flemish masters. An entire room in this circuit is home to jewelry designed by René Lalique.

Calouste Gulbenkian was born in 1869 in the Ottoman Empire. He would later become a petrol magnate with a passion for the arts. At the age of just 15, he began his collection with the purchase of several old coins. During his lifetime, he would collect more than 6,000 pieces of artwork. Much of the latter part of his life was spent determining where his collection would be housed. Initially, he discussed displaying the collection at the National Gallery in London. Discussions were also held with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. After establishing his fortune, Gulbenkian spent significant time in Paris and London before settling in Lisbon where he remained until the time of his death in 1955.


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