Chiado National Museum

Lisbonne, Portugal


PIAAH (Portuguese Institute of Architectural and Archaeological Heritage)

Project team

Coordinating architect: JOAO HERDAD, IPPAA
Cost consultant: MARC VAREILLE

Surface area

3 400 sqm




Restructuring of the existing building, interior design and museography of the exhibition spaces.

After the fire that ravaged downtown Lisbon in the summer of 1988, the PIAAH decided to renovate and restructure the National Museum of Chiado, in the old 18th-century convent of São Francisco da Cidade.

The new museum has seen the extension of its exhibition areas in several adjoining buildings. The exhibition space has been increased by more than 2,700 sqm. Originally accessible from the garden, it now has a street entrance in a large vaulted room. The visitor passes through an imposing reception hall and then climbs a suspended metal staircase extended by two footbridges which lead to the garden on the one hand and to the first exhibition room on the other. The starting point of the museographic tour, this room, open on three levels, functions as an articulation for the entire museum, successively serving the curatorial offices, the temporary exhibitions, the garden, the permanent exhibitions, the bookshop, the cafe and the terrace.

The volumes of the rooms are very different, the unity coming from the grey local stone on the floor, the white of the picture rails and the regular presence of dark wood, traditional characteristics of Portuguese architecture.

Five buildings of different character and periods, like pieces of a puzzle interwoven into the dense urban fabric of Lisbon. Connecting these buildings was a real challenge.

Jean-Michel Wilmotte