Travelling to Lisbon this summer ? For art lovers a trip to the Calouste Gulbenkian museum is definitely recommended. I find private collections and quirky collectors far more interesting than huge national museums and when such collections are accessible, always worth a visit. Calouste Gulbenkian made a fortune in oil trading in the early twentieth century- he was known as Mr Five Percenter because that’s what he got on huge oil contracts he brokered. He was also an avid art collector – Rodin and Lalique were personal friends, so was archeologist Howard Carter. When the Hermitage Museum in Russia ran out of money and had to sell its collection of Dutch masters including some pricey Ruisdales, well, Mr. Gulbenkian bailed them out. He wasn’t scheduled to have a museum in Portugal though . He was headed to the US with his collection but stopped over in Lisbon – Portugal was neutral in the war. He loved the city so much that he decided to stay and gifted it a museum and his collection. Greek coins, Islamic art , Egyptian and Mesopotamian finds, Chinese porcelain, Medieval manuscripts, French Ormulu , Dutch and Italian masters- the collection shows his different interests though not all of it is on display. Don’T forget to stroll from the private collection through the beautiful gardens scattered with sculpture and art to the museum of modern art within the grounds. A nice museum store and two very popular cafes to check out too . There is an hour long Highlights of the collection tour for 18 euros which is quite informative but frankly the collection is well marked, well labelled with dates and details and rooms clearly demarcated so easy to explore one’s own .
Some of my pictures are below to scroll through or visit https://gulbenkian.pt