Northeast of Eduardo VII Park is the Gulbenkian Museum, one of the world's great museums and one of Europe's unsung treasures. Part of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, it houses a magnificent collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian, and European art. It was substantially renovated and modernized in 2001 (many of its masterpieces were on display in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art during renovation), and can't be missed during a visit to Lisbon. This is one of the world's finest private art collections, amassed over a period of 40 years by oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian, who was one of the 20th century's wealthiest men. In his later years he adopted Portugal as his home, and donated all of his stupendous art treasures to the country when he died in 1955 at the age of 86.
Of the many highlights is a haunting gold Egyptian mummy mask, an exquisite 2700-year-old alabaster bowl, a series of bronze cats and other priceless treasures in the Egyptian section, a stunning collection of Hellenic coins and a 2400-year-old Attic vase in the Greek and Roman section, rare pieces of Chinese porcelain, Japanese prints, and rich 16th- and 17th-century Persian tapestries.
In the huge European art section (many of the works were bought from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg), are pieces by Rembrandt (Potrait of an Old Man, and Alexander the Great), Peter Paul Rubens (Portrait of Helene Fourment), Claude Monet, Van Dyck, Ghirlandaio (15th century Portrait of a girl), Rogier Van der Weyden (St. Catherine), and Pierre-Ausguste Renoir (Potrait of Madame Claude Monet), along with French furniture and textiles.
There's also a white marble statue of Diana by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, silver made by François-Thomas Germain once used by Catherine the Great, and René Lalique jewelry considered to be unique in the world.
Sharing the lovely serene gardens of the main collection's building is the building of the modern collection, containing modern and contemporary Portuguese and foreign art displayed on two floors. There are more than 10,000 items, including works by Paula Rego, Almada Negreiros, Souza Cardoso, and Vieira da Silva.
Get reduced admission to the museum and ride Lisbon's metro, buses, and trams for FREE with the Lisboa Card.
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