There have been many great collectors over time who have carried with them a passion for things unique and interesting. Calouste Gulbenkian is one of the better known of these passionate treasurers who amassed an accumulation of objects large and small over many years. Gulbenkian was born into a family of wealthy merchants in 1869. The petroleum industry took up many years of his life and throughout those years he spent most of his time in Middle Eastern countries working and collecting Islamic pieces. Generous in nature the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was initiated because of a request left in his will.
Arriving in Lisbon in April
of 1942, Gulbenkian said that he had never felt hospitality
the way he had in Portugal. This led him to donate important
pieces to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon.
He wished for his entire collection from over the years
to be together under one roof where other people could
enjoy it and he got his wish in 1956. In present day the
museum draws many people visiting the Lisbon area.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is home to a large collection of very interesting works from various different countries. There is a permanent collection at the museum that is assigned in geographical and chronological order which establishes two separate routes in the overall tour of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. The first circuit of the Calouste Gulbenkain Museum is comprised of pieces of Classical and Oriental works which includes Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Eastern Islamic, Greco-Roman, Armenian and Far Eastern art pieces.
This first loop is a museum favorite and displays many interesting and exotic pieces. The second loop encompasses art from Europe and includes different components committed to sculpture painting, the Art of the Book, and decorative arts. Emphasis is on 18th century French art and works by Rene Lalique. Pair a trip to the museum with a visit to the famous Tile Museum is a great way to spend a day in the city.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation continues to donate significant funds to promote development in social change, education and contemporary arts. The foundation has a UK branch which is a leader in promoting Portugese culture through art and is responsible for grant aid in the UK.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation also administers funding for The Gulbenkian Prize for galleries and museums. The purpose of the prize is to “recognize and stimulate originality, imagination and excellence in museums and galleries in the UK”. Every year a prize of 100,000 pounds is bestowed upon a gallery, large or small, that best demonstrates the principals Calouste Gulbenkian set forth in his request.
A visit to the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum costs three Euros and guided audio visits are four euros but check pricing before purchasing a ticket. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am to 5:54pm and is closed on Mondays and holidays. Free admission concerts and recitals are offered on several Sundays at noon in the Library atrium as.
Calouste Gulbenkian was an interesting and well-educated man who led a stimulating life in several fascinating countries. His appreciation for fine art tells a more intimate story of what he was like as a person and represents his good taste and appreciation for the art world.