In a rapidly changing city like Lisbon, the Municipal Galleries seek to enhance the artistic environment and reflect contemporary culture. They consist of five spaces, networked and without a permanent collection: Pavilhão Branco, Boavista Gallery, Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional, Quadrum Gallery and the Avenida da Índia Gallery. With a particular awareness of the historical and architectural heritage of each space, programming reflects a diversity of artistic creation and discourse, maintaining a transdisciplinary and transcultural focus. In this sense, the Municipal Galleries seek to promote different temporalities through exhibitions of varying lengths, as well as discursive programs, performances, residencies and publications.
Avenida da Índia Gallery
The Avenida da Índia Gallery is located in Bom Sucesso, an area of Belém so named for an ancient monastery located there. The gallery building is part of an urban industrial nucleus dating back to the 19th century. In around 1819-21, João Baptista Ângelo da Costa established the National Factory of Steam Machines in the area, giving rise to the Bom Sucesso Milling Factory (1884), located near the port with the same name.
In 1909, José António dos Reis, owner of the Milling Factory and the land it occupied, ordered the construction of new warehouses designated by the letters B, C and D – currently occupied by the Avenida da Índia Gallery (at number 170), Karnart (number 168) and the Lisbon Archaeology Centre (number 166). In the 1920s, the manufacturing infrastructure in Bom Sucesso became the property of Companhia Industrial de Portugal e Colónias, which operated there until the late 1930s. When the Company moved to Beato in the eastern part of Lisbon, the industrial facilities of Bom Sucesso were put up for sale. The set of buildings next to Avenida da Índia was then acquired by the Lisbon City Council (CML), establishing the western boundary of the 1940 Portuguese World Exhibition.
Following a fire in their workshops on 13 July 1972 (in the old Pavilion of Independence from the Portuguese World Exhibition, near the Belém River Station), the artists Maria Helena Matos, António Cândido dos Reis, Carlos Amado and António Augusto Lagoa Henriques moved to the old block of factory warehouses. The formal transfer of 168 Avenida da Índia – formerly warehouse C – from the CML took place in 1978-80 and the space was compartmentalised to rehouse these artists’ workshops.
Until his death in February 2009, the sculptor Lagoa Henriques acted as a tutelary figure within the space (which was also known as “Lagoa Henriques’s Universe”). In 2001, the CML struck an agreement with Lagoa Henriques for the creation of an atelier/museum at 170 Avenida da Índia, formerly warehouse B. It is there that the Avenida da Índia Gallery currently operates, recovered by EGEAC in 2015 and inaugurated by the Municipal Galleries in November of that same year. It opened to the public with the initiative “Retornar – Traços de Memória” (Return – Traces of Memory), which marked the 40th anniversary of the 1975 air bridge between Portugal and its former colonies.
Bus: 728, 729
The Boavista Gallery is located in an old part of city. The gallery building is of late-18th and early-19th century construction and has undergone significant changes, which arose gradually over time through shifts in function and prevailing aesthetic trends. In 1910, a project of alterations gave rise to the current façade and the configuration and red iron ornamentation of the entrance and shop window, today a gallery.
Alberto Carlos Florentino, the building’s owner, originally used the ground floor as a jeweller’s. In 1946, Sociedade de Aços e Metais, Lda. established itself in the building’s store space and 1st floor, which also form part of the Boavista Gallery today. The Lisbon City Council (CML) acquired the building from the company Acail in 2000 and, between 2004 and 2009, works of improvement, rehabilitation and requalification were undertaken. Following these refurbishments, the gallery was ceded by the CML to various entities and cultural agents that developed programming until 2016, including exhibitions, performances, concerts, among other activities. During this period, the Boavista Gallery also acted as the gallery space of NOTE – Galeria de Arquitetura e Syntax.
In 2016, Boavista Gallery was integrated into the group of Municipal Galleries/EGEAC, joining the four other galleries in that group: Quadrum Gallery, Pavilhão Branco, Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional and the Avenida da Índia Gallery.
The Boavista Gallery is installed in the same building as the Boavista Residences.
Pavilhão Branco (the White Pavilion) is located in the gardens of Palácio Pimenta – the building where the headquarters of the Lisbon Museum is located. A construction which dates from the first half of the 18th century, the palace and its gardens contrast with the surrounding urban fabric, which is made up of elements such as part of the Segunda Circular road network, the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and the urban transport interchange at Campo Grande. Due to limitations in the capacity of the Palácio Pimenta to host exhibitions in the context of the 1994 Lisbon European Capital of Culture, the Pavilhão Preto (Black Pavilion) was first built in the palace gardens. The Pavilhão Branco was inaugurated on 26 July 1995, a year later, with the exhibition “Azulejo Gráfico” (Graphic Tilework).
The Pavilhão Branco is of neo-modern architecture, having emerged at a time when some of the most developed post-modernist façades of the city were being erected. Designed by Italian architect Daniela Ermano, the pavilion follows a parallelepiped matrix measuring around 26m long, 10m wide and 10m high. It occupies an area of 264.5 m2 and is composed of two floors, totalling around 372 m2 of exhibition space. With mostly glass façades, the building promotes strong visual contact with animals, plants and trees in the gardens, creating a feeling among visitors of being both inside and outside at the same time.
The Pavilhão Branco has featured exhibitions of contemporary art since its opening. It was integrated into the Municipal Galleries in early 2010.
Bus: 701, 717, 731, 735, 736, 738, 747, 755, 767, 778, 783, 796, 798
Quadrum Gallery is part of the Coruchéus complex, designed by Fernando Peres Guimarães and inaugurated in 1971. The ground floor space of the south body – which hosts Quadrum Gallery – was initially designed to serve as a restaurant and bar to support the 50 municipal workshops on the upper floors. The glass façades conditioned the conversion of this space into a gallery, as proposed by Dulce d’Agro – an artist who became one of the most important gallerists in the country. This functional adaptation took place in 1973, benefiting from a series of underground and ground floor spaces that were transformed to house the exhibition spaces and office.
The glass panes running along the length of the east and west façades of the exhibition room required less conventional exhibition arrangements from the outset, including a movable aluminium structure with felt-lined panels prepared for the exhibition of two-dimensional formats. The versatility of this arrangement resulted in a wide variety of mounting solutions.
Quadrum Gallery holds a position of great importance within the Portuguese institutional fabric. The gallery will always be remembered as a space dedicated to promoting the most diverse experimentalism, especially between the 25 April Revolution of 1974 and the early 1980s. During this period, among many other proposals, Quadrum presented performative actions by Ana Hatherly, José Conduto, João Vieira, Gina Pane and Ulrike Rosenbach; visual poetry by E. M. de Melo e Castro and Salette Tavares; installations by Ana Vieira, Alberto Carneiro, José Barrias and Irene Buarque; and new research in painting by artists such as Noronha da Costa, Álvaro Lapa, António Sena, Pires Vieira, Jorge Pinheiro and Ângelo de Sousa.
Dulce d’Agro ran the gallery until the mid-1990s, followed by a period of informal direction in which António Cerveira Pinto developed lines of programming between 1999 and 2004. Quadrum has been managed and programmed by the Municipal Galleries since 2010.
Bus: 727, 735, 736
Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional
The Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional (East Tower Gallery of the National Ropework Factory), located by the river front near Belém, is part of an area of great historical and heritage value, one of the first industrialised areas of Lisbon. The Cordoaria Nacional was established as a large manufacturing facility for products essential to maritime activities. The building dates from the 1770s when, by order of the then Prime Minister Marquês de Pombal, the construction of the Royal Ropework Factory was decreed for the lands adjoining the Fort of São João da Junqueira.
Following a project attributed to the architect Reinaldo Manuel dos Santos, the building plan distributed the various functional spaces in a modular way, highlighting the long central body running parallel to the river, where the cordage workshop was installed. Adjacent areas featured sections for dyeing, starching, spinning, rigging, tailoring, weaving and the production of flags and cleaning materials, as well as support spaces for carpentry, locksmithing and administration. After a flourishing start, manufacturing activity slowed and the import of cordage was prohibited to give a new boost to production. In 1902, the School of Tropical Medicine was established in one part of the building and renamed the Institute of Tropical Medicine in 1937.
The Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional, with around 1,250 m2 of exhibition space, was established in 1995 through a protocol between the Portuguese Navy and the Lisbon City Council (CML). The Municipal Galleries have organised exhibitions in this space since 2003. A bookshop installed on site makes publications related to the exhibition projects of the Municipal Galleries available to the public.