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Fundação Oriente / Museu do Oriente
Lisbon, Portugal
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Founded on 18 March 1988, the Fundação Oriente is a corporate body governed by private law, having as goals organizing and supporting cultural, educational, artistic, philanthropic and social activities, above all in Portugal and Macao. As part of these goals, it will seek to continue and strengthen the historical and cultural connections between Portugal and countries of the Far East, and to cooperate with Macanese communities worldwide. The Fundação Oriente is based in Lisbon and has delegations in Macao, India and East Timor. The vast Portuguese cultural heritage scattered throughout Asia quickly became the Fundação’s sphere of study and activity. Research grants were awarded in a wide variety of areas. Protocols and partnerships were established with local agents, and cooperation with other entities was undertaken. Specific projects were sponsored for carrying out an editorial policy that favoured publications fundamental to the spread of Asian cultures in Portugal and financed the translation of Portuguese texts into local languages. In addition, the Fundação mounted exhibitions with varied themes, materials and aims, and promoted conferences, seminars and meetings. Once the pressing need to preserve the architectural heritage had been addressed, a similar concern for the movable artistic heritage seemed inevitable. To this end, the Fundação Oriente had been systematically and continuously acquiring artworks and collector’s items since it was founded. The Fundação Oriente and the Port Authority undertook negotiations to assess the possibility of using one building of the riverfront of the city to house the Fundação’s collections, along with all the cultural activities, exhibitions, performances, seminars and meetings to be organized under its aegis. Negotiations were successfully completed in 2004. The Pedro Álvares Cabral Building was acquired by the Fundação Oriente and the interior completely remodelled to serve as a centre for cultural, artistic and social encounters between Portugal and East Asia. Museu do Oriente is an interdisciplinary museum of international territorial scope that, by crossing viewpoints from the fields of history, art and anthropology, attempts to provide the Portuguese and visitors to Portugal with a living, active memory of Asian cultures and the long-term relationships established between East and West, manly through Portugal’s initiative. These themes correspond to a diversified cultural heritage of historical, artistic, documentary, ethnographic and anthropological interest related to popular culture and Eastern religions as well as to more varied aspects of the Portuguese presence in Asia for five centuries. The museum heritage that serves as the basis for the Museu do Oriente permanent exhibitions falls into two large collections. The first, recalling the Portuguese presence in Asia, is made up of more than a thousand art objects, the include objects of exceptional value, in particular 17th-and 18th century Chinese and Japanese screens, rare works of Namban art, a group of heraldic porcelain of the Companhia das Índias and significant holdings related to the cultures of the peoples of Timor. Deposits of specific pieces or even entire collections from public and private entities – as happened with the important Chinese art collection of the poet Camilo Pessanha and the Chinese and Japanese decorative art collection of the writer and politician Manuel Teixeira Gomes – have been and will continue to be one of the main resources in an exhibition strategy that aims to minimize gaps in the holdings. The second major group, the Kwok On collection, from the Association du Musée Kwok On in Paris, is overseen by Jacques Pimpaneau, a Specialist in Chinese studies. It consists of more than thirteen thousand objects attesting to the performing arts all over Asia and to the folk myths and religions of which these are the expressions. Outstanding are the holdings relating to rituals of Hinduism and variants of Buddhism found throughout Asia, and to animistic religions and shamanic cults. There are also large collections of Asian masks and shadow puppets and marionettes from India, China and Java. The objects were amassed over decades through collecting activity at the cultural events that are still observed in various Asian countries. This is a continuing mission, not only in order to fill gaps in the collection but also to avoid its stagnation. Given its representativeness, the Kwok On Collection is considered the foremost of its kind in Europe. It includes spectacular, high-quality pieces, as well as many others of considerable antiquity. Some of these are very rare or indeed unique, even among the leading museums of this speciality.

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Avenida Brasília, Doca de Alcântara (Norte) - 1350-352 Lisboa 
Joana Belard da Fonseca 



  • Screen Namban
    AD 17th century ~ AD 19th century
    Fundação Oriente / Museu do Oriente
  • Oratory Namban
    AD 16th century ~ AD 17th century
    Fundação Oriente / Museu do Oriente
  • Cabinet
    AD 16th century ~ AD 17th century
    Fundação Oriente / Museu do Oriente


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