Visit the Foundation Ricardo Espirito Santo Silva in Lisbon.
It’s a trip down Alice’s rabbit hole, a discovery of ancient arts, no longer widely practised but so necessary to the cultural survival of our civilisation. Created in 1953, the museum collection of Portuguese decorative arts and the palace where it is housed, Auzara, was donated by Ricardo Espirito Santo Silva. A banker, a sportsman and a patron of the arts, he amassed a great collection of about 2000 pieces, starting from the 16th to the 19th century.
What I consider to be a great achievement of the Foundation, www.fess.pt, are the various schools, institutes and workshops in-house, as well as a department of Conservation and Restoration. It is one of the few place in Europe where these crafts are still studied. These ateliers are a testimony to secular arts and crafts and their reproduction and maintenance, specialists in the forgotten arts in techniques such as cabinet making, gilding, marquetry, leather work and decorative painting amongst others. The savoir-faire of these masters is passed on to students, through degrees and master’s degrees on decorative arts, arts and crafts, conservation and restoration.
Often there will be temporary exhibitions, themed conferences, creative workshops and guided tours. Be a tourist in your own city, Lisbon, ( if you live here), it’s so well worth it!
Largo das Portas do Sol, 2 Lisbon Telephone: 21 88146 00