LUSA 07/09/2024

Lusa - Business News - Portugal: Almada Negreiros murals reopen to public next February

Lisbon, July 8, 2024 (Lusa) - The Interpretive Centre for Lisbon's Maritime Stations will open to the public in February 2025, making the 14 restored Almada Negreiros murals accessible to the whole population and turning it into a cultural hub linking Alcântara and Belém.

The Interpretive Centre "Almada's Murals in the Maritime Stations" was presented today in Lisbon by the minister of infrastructure and housing, Miguel Pinto Luz, and by the project's promoters, the Lisbon Port Administration, Lisbon City Council and the Lisbon Tourism Association.

Almada Negreiros' panels are the largest group of Portuguese mural paintings of the 20th century and the ultimate expression of Portuguese modernism, as the minister emphasised.

Located in the Gare Marítima de Alcântara, this interpretive centre will allow citizens and tourists to enjoy these works of art, while at the same time boosting knowledge of them, especially among schoolchildren.

Throughout the nine rooms on the ground floor, extensive information will be available on Almada Negreiros' murals - which can be visited at the Alcântara Maritime Station (eight panels), and at the Rocha do Conde de Óbidos Maritime Station (six) - but also on the history of the construction of maritime stations and their historical and social role.

For Miguel Pinto Luz, the possibility of Lisbon residents and all those who visit the city having access to these "magnificent" works is something "absolutely incomparable to anything else that has been done".

"As minister for infrastructure, it's great to see that the port of Lisbon no longer has its back turned to the city. The port of Lisbon today has to have a symbiotic relationship with the city, and the people of Lisbon have to have access to this, it can't be enclosed within four walls and, therefore, Almada [Negreiros] has to be represented in this new interpretive centre, to give all the people of Lisbon access to what the new port of Lisbon is going to be, a port that is not just containers, not just economic activity, but also facing the River Tagus," he said, speaking to journalists.

This project includes the restoration of the murals themselves and the creation of the entire interpretive centre, "a museum space that also represents what port activity was like in the 1940s," added the minister.

In the future interpretive centre, visitors will be able to learn about the construction and decoration of the Navigation Terminals, the relationship between the architect Pardal Monteiro, who designed the buildings, and the artist Almada Negreiros, Almada Negreiros' studies for the murals in the Maritime Stations and the different political and historical moments that affected the operation of the Stations, including the Second World War, emigration, departures for the Colonial War and the decolonisation process with the return of the Portuguese from the former colonies.

The context in which the works were commissioned from the artist will also be explained, as will the controversy generated at the time over the final result, which was far removed from the dictatorship's propagandist aims.

As the Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, emphasised, "what is portrayed there is the humble Lisbon that Almada wanted to show, but that the Estado Novo wanted to hide: the life of the quays, the true reality of Lisbon is there. This is a work by the people of Lisbon"

Almada Negreiros' artistic presence in the city of Lisbon will also be on display, namely the spaces where other works of his can be found, as well as his documentation on the Maritime Stations, statements, interviews, notes, photographs and reproductions of works and documents.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ceremony, Carlos Moedas called this "a historic and important day for Lisbon, because it is this link between culture and tourism".

"We're here inaugurating this Almada Negreiros interpretative centre, with 3.5 million tourists coming and I think it's very important at a time when we sometimes see some friction being created in relation to a sector as important to the economy as tourism, that tourism contributes to the people of Lisbon."