National Museum Soares dos Reis occupies the Carrancas Palace, a building from the end of 18th century that in the meantime has suffered several adaptations to its new function. The access is made by the front door of the palace. On the ground floor is installed the Reception, where visitors can receive all the important information.
A leaflet with general information about the Museum is available in English and Portuguese and there are also other leaflets with details concerning visits for children accompanied by adults.
Visitors have at their disposal hall-stand and lockers with keys.
A wheel-chair for visitors who cannot walk through the galleries is also available. The access to all the public space is ensured by ramps or lift.
On the left side of the Reception is situated the Museum shop. Here visitors can find all kind of publications concerning this and other museums, as well as copies or objects inspired by pieces from collections belonging to IMC museums and palaces.
Walking across the shop the visitors reaches the Cafeteria where is possible to have lunch, coffee or tea. The weekly menu appears on the Museum website. When the weather is good the coffee-shop uses the former riding-space of the palace as esplanade.On the right side of the Reception there is a room used for temporary exhibitions.
National Museum Soares dos Reis : 1st Floor
When we reach the 1st floor we find the permanent Museum exhibition. Beginning by the left side we make a chronological itinerary through the Portuguese painting and sculpture of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The criterion of this exhibition gives an idea of the importance of the connection of the National Museum Soares dos Reis with the Porto Fine Arts Academy, which was founded in 1836. Because of this connection a great part of the works made by professors and students of the Academy remained in the Museum. This permits us to have now a quite complete vision of the artistic creation from this period until 1932, the year in which the separation took place.
In the first room an introductory text helps the visitor to understand the works in exhibition.
The itinerary begins with Romanticism themes: portrait, popular customs, History, represented by works of August Roquemont, Francisco José Rezende, João António Correia, Luís Pereira de Meneses (Visconde de Meneses), Miguel Ângelo Lupi, Caetano Moreira da Costa Lima, among others (rooms 2,3 and 4).
The greatest collection of the Museum belongs to the Naturalism cycle, represented by an enlarged selection of works painted by Silva Porto and Marques de Oliveira, who received a scholarship to study in France and Italy and introduced in the Portuguese art the possibility of an aesthetic renovation by painting in the open-air. But other painters such as José Malhoa, Columbano, António Ramalho and João Vaz figure in the collection too, permitting a view of the Portuguese painting in the second half of the 19th century (rooms 5 and 6).
In the sculpture gallery there is a permanent exhibition of works made by António Soares dos Reis, the artist who gives his name to the National Museum Soares dos Reis. Here are shown works made of plaster, marble or bronze, corresponding to his condition either as student in the Porto Fine Arts Academy or as holder of a scholarship in Paris and Rome and also as an acknowledged artist.
Through the sculpture gallery the visitor has access to the new area of the National Museum Soares dos Reis.
This area is the result of an enlargement that took place in 2001 and leads to two rooms for temporary exhibitions and to the auditorium.
Proceeding our way along the painting of the 19th century it is given special importance to the work of Henrique Pousão (room 7). After this one, the visitor can appreciate a number of naturalistic painters, among others Artur Loureiro and Sousa Pinto. These artists were born in the fifties of the 19th century, but remained active until the thirties of the next century (room 8).
Aurélia de Sousa and António Carneiro represent, on the turning of the century, a rupture between the naturalistic constancy and the announcement of an aesthetic renovation. Other painters like Carlos Reis, Veloso Salgado, Manuel Maria Lúcio, Cândido da Cunha e Eugénio Moreira make the artistic scenery of a transitional period (room 8).
The last rooms (9, 10 and 11) of the exhibition permit to observe some of the transformations occurred in the Portuguese art in the first half of the 20th century. These changes were caused by the introduction of avant-garde tendencies, which were emerging in Europe. In these rooms are represented painters like Armado de Basto, Eduardo Viana, Dordio Gomes, José Tagarro, Fernando Lanhas, Júlio Resende, Augusto Gomes and, among others, the sculptors Diogo de Macedo, Francisco Franco and Ernesto Canto da Maya.
The exhibition of a little set of Egyptian objects in the very last room of the painting gallery is a sign of the diversity of the collections shown in this Museum (room 13).
National Museum Soares dos Reis: 2nd Floor
Continuing our way up the main staircase, we will reach the noble floor of the Palace. In here we can admire the decorative elements of walls and ceilings of some rooms, which remained from the origin of the Palace and were restored in the meantime. Turning right we can find a room dedicated to the Portuguese faïence of the 17th century. The production of the 18th and 19th centuries is shown in the next room, on the right, with special prominence to the faïence factories in the North of the country.
The magnificent palace dining room was the ideal place to exhibit a remarkable set of Chinese porcelain of the end of 18th century, which was ordered at the time by Bishop of Oporto. In other show-cases we can look at objects made of glass and silver, which have to do with this space, either because of their function or their age.
Two other rooms, facing the façade, in both sides of the noble room, occupies the centre of the palace and received this name at the time the palace was residence of the Royal Family (1861-1910), contain beautiful furniture, silverware and other textiles of the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the former noble room are now exhibited pieces related to the Portuguese presence in the Orient. Here is given special relief to the Japanese Namban-Screens of the 17th century, with scenes that depict the arrival of a Portuguese ship in Japan, furniture and other precious works representative of the Indo-Portuguese period or even the great show-case with Chinese porcelain.
On the top, opposite to the dining room, we come upon the music room. Here, besides the primitive decoration of the ceiling, we can still admire the furniture, that was specially designed for this space by an Italian artist named Luis Chiari, who took part in the construction of the palace.
At last and to confirm the diversity of collections in exhibition, we can still visit a room with oriental references, another space with a remarkable collection of glasses of the
17th and 18th centuries and as conclusion the jewellery room, where prehistoric jewels are exhibited in a show-case in the middle of the room and around it numerous types of jewellery from several ages with special relief to the feminine ornaments, watches and snuff boxes.
Credits / Source:
National Museum Soares dos Reis website