About the Collection

The Modern Collection of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum might well be seen to start where the Founder’s Collection ends, and in more ways than one.

After Gulbenkian’s death in 1955 his Foundation was established, and almost immediately began to support a wide range of activities, notably in the field of visual arts, both in Portugal and abroad, notably in Britain and France, where Gulbenkian had lived, but also in the Middle East, where he had made his fortune. Even before there was any kind of permanent home for these works, the Foundation was acquiring pieces by scholarship holders, from the exhibitions it organised, and from its advisors, notably in London, through the British Council.

In 1983 the Foundation opened a new building as a home for various contemporary art activities, and from this date began more systematically to acquire works by modern Portuguese artists. In this way the collection touches the end of the 19th century where the Founder’s collection ends. The collection continues to grow, by purchase and by donation, and comprises c. 10.500 pieces, many of which are films and photographs, as well as drawings, which can be shown only rarely. With the new displays of the collection we intend to show more material, within a historical framework, but in rotation. In this way we can introduce modern Portuguese art to those who hardly know it, as well as those who know it well.