Lisbon was the first European city to create trade and cultural ties with Africa and Asia, bringing the art and culture of different civilizations to the Old Continent. To see how the European (and specifically the Portuguese) culture influenced Asian art and vice versa, you may visit Lisbon’s Orient Museum, but for African art and culture, there isn’t yet any one museum or cultural center for that in the city (it’s in the planning stages). This means that those curious about the art and culture of Africa in Lisbon will want to know that there is currently a great opportunity to feel the “African Soul” in a special exhibition until February 7, 2010.
The “Alma Africana” (“African Soul”) exhibition can be seen in PÃ¡teo da GalÃ©, a space in Comercio Square accessed through the arches next to the city’s main tourism office. It’s open every day except on Mondays from 11AM to 7PM and offers free entries on Sundays and Wednesdays.
The art on display belongs to the Berardo Collection, and are pieces that are not part of the Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. There are more than 1000 of them in total, divided into archaeological, ethnographic, and modern art displays, with some of the pieces dating back to the 3rd century and from different places such as Niger, Angola, and Zimbabwe. Among the statues, masks, musical instruments, and jewelry, interesting objects include crucifixes showing the Catholic Portuguese influence, as well as readapted versions of chairs given by the Portuguese explorers to local tribal chiefs.