Expansion of the Chiado Museum “must advance urgently”

The expansion project of the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Chiado Museum, in Lisbon, must “advance with urgency”, defended today the director of the institution, Emilia Ferreira, who continues to struggle with constraints of space for exhibitions and reservations.

In an interview, regarding the state of the enlargement project, which has been phased in since 2015, the new director said that the space available in the Convento de São Francisco “is double the current, but can not to be used.

“We are in the process of lifting the spaces, in dialogue with the [Ministry of Culture] to schedule the procedures and look for patrons who support,” he said, adding that the PSP Metropolitan Command that had facilities there, has not yet completely left the building.

Located in the historical centre of Lisbon, Chiado Museum was founded in 1911 as a National Museum of Contemporary Art, and its collection includes more than 5,000 pieces of art, in a chronological journey from 1850 to the present day, including painting, sculpture, drawing, photography and video.

In July 2015, after two decades of negotiations that passed through several Governments, the Chiado Museum was expanded to Capelo Street, where the former Civil Government of Lisbon came out, and now has two entrances, Serpa Pinto Street.

The director, who took office in December one year, said the museum “remains very embarrassed” because it can not grow to make more temporary and long-term exhibitions, create space for reservations, and an Education Service, which does not yet have.

“The collection needs to grow, it is strangled. We have many donations and deposit proposals and we can not accept them,” said Emília Ferreira.

Asked if, on the contrary, there were collectors who requested to remove pieces, as happened in February of this year, when Isabel Vaz Lopes withdrew an important set of contemporary Portuguese photography on deposit in the museum, criticizing the entity, Emília Ferreira said no again, “on the contrary, there are several who want to deliver.”

The works withdrawn by the collector Isabel Vaz Lopes were later sold at auction, and the Ministry of Culture eventually bought some photographs, on a proposal from the museum, through the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage.

“On the side of Capelo Street, the rooms are small and the doors are also spaces that were not created to serve as a museum and do not fit the large works that we also wanted to show,” said Emília Ferreira, about the new facilities, received in 2016.

Recalling that the Chiado Museum “is the only National Museum of Contemporary Art in the country, with more than a hundred years of history, and a unique collection, in a historical area, in the heart of Lisbon”, Emília Ferreira indicated that they are doing improve signage and make it more visible to the public.

Asked about the negotiations with the Sonae Group, the main patron of the Chiado Museum, about the protocol that ends this year, indicated that they are still in talks.

About programming for next year, she told that it is already closed, but she declined to reveal it for the time being, because a formal approval of the guardianship is lacking.

However, he went on to show lesser-known artists from the general public, including some female artists such as the painter Sarah Afonso (1899-1983) and the painter, illustrator, set designer and costume designer Maria Adelaide de Lima Cruz (1908-1985).

“They are artists who deserve not only the relevance of their work but also their lack of knowledge of the public,” he added, adding that “in many cases, women artists have been erased historically, culturally and socially.”

The goal is “to carry out more research on the artists and their work, to benefit from the knowledge about the collection, to increase the knowledge about the artists and the role they have played in their time.”

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