Manuel de Brito Centre of Art in Alges

Stuart Forster views Portuguese contemporary artworks at the Manuel de Brito Centre of Art in Alges, Portugal.

The Centro de Arte Manuel de Brito, known in English as the ‘Manuel de Brito Centre of Art’, is located in Alges, near Lisbon.

About 8km (5 miles) west of Lisbon, Alges is technically a district of Oeiras. If you are a casual visitor arriving from the centre of the Portuguese capital – following a short journey by tram, bus or suburban train – it’s tricky to discern the municipal boundaries of the Greater Lisbon conurbation.

Cutting edge contemporary art

The core of this art gallery’s collection was put together by Manuel de Brito, who lived from 1928 to 2005. Brito made his name in the art world by establishing Galeria 111.

The gallery, which was founded in 1964, won its reputation by showing cutting edge works by contemporary artists. Galeria 111 continues to operate in Lisbon and Porto.

The mainstay of the Collecção Manual de Brito, the Manuel de Brito Collection, is Portuguese art from the twentieth century. You’ll see works by artists such as Eduardo Batarda, Antonio Dacosta, Eduardo Luiz, Graca Morais, Julio Pomar and Paula Rego.

The restoration of Anjos Palace

The Manuel de Brito Centre of Art’s collection is housed in the Palacio Anjos, known in English as Anjos Palace. The grand building, dating from the late nineteenth century, is just a couple of minutes’ walk from Alges railway station, which lies on the line between Cascais and Lisbon.

Major restorations, costing around €3.5million, were needed before the palace could open to the public as an art museum in November 2006. Neglect over a prolonged period of time had, unfortunately, caused the once stately building to fall into a miserable state of disrepair by the middle of the past decade.

Gardens with a cafe

These days the palace facade is, once again, immaculate. The interiors are far more modern that you might expect while standing in the Centro de Arte Manuel de Brito’s well-tended gardens. If you enjoy botany set aside a few minutes to stroll around the gardens, in which, non-specialists will be pleased to hear, the names of tree and plant species are clearly marked. The gardens also house a chic cafe, the Cafeteria Centro de Arte, which is popular with locals as a place to meet and chat. It’s a fine place to enjoy a coffee after looking around the gallery.

The gallery’s permanent collection is displayed on the ground floor of the palace while temporary exhibitions are up on the first floor.

Further information

The Manuel de Brito Centre of Arts is at Alameda Hermano Patrone, 1945-064 Alges.

If you enjoy modern and contemporary art and want to see as much as possible while in the Lisbon area then you could easily combine a visit to the Manuel de Brito Centre of Art with a trip to Cascais, to view the Casa das Historias Paula Rego (the Paula Rego House of Stories).

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