Museu Soares dos Reis: everyone who visits goes home with a forever changed perspective

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The exhibition themed “A Índia em Portugal” [India in Portugal”, free translation] is one out of the three temporary exhibitions that provide the perfect opportunity to enter Museu Soares dos Reis, a building that underwent rehabilitation works and is now open to everyone who visits and is sure to go home with a forever changed perspective. On show are the exhibitions “Depositarium… 1”, a display by José Régio, and “A Índia em Portugal – um tempo de confluências artísticas”. The latter was inaugurated with the presence of the Ambassador of India in Portugal, Shri Manish Chauhan, who was representing the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

António Ponte, the new Director of the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis (MNSR) is set to change the perspective of the only museum in the city of Porto that bears the national accolade. This rebuilding also encompasses a programme strategy that let’s go of the title “permanent exhibition” to taking the “long term exhibition” definition, as the bet is on “temporary exhibitions” to captivate a growing number of visitors. “We want to revive and strengthen our connection with the public and to doing that it is important that the Museum is presented in an enthusiastic yet safe way. We thought it was urgent to bring back the museum to the city and to the country”, declared António Ponte to Lusa.

The opening of the Museum, following the rehabilitation work, encompasses the temporary exhibition “A Índia em Portugal – um tempo de confluências artísticas”, organised in the scope of the EU-India Summit, under the auspices of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union. The Indian Prime-Minister, Narendra Modi would have been present, but the harshening of the pandemic situation in India prevented his in-person attendance. In turn, the Ambassador of India in Portugal, Shri Manish Chauhan, represented the Prime Minister to the visit of the exhibition and was accompanied by the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, by the vice-Mayor of Porto, Filipe Araújo, and also a group of parliamentarians, among other personalities of the city’s cultural scene.

The exhibition will be on show until 30 June and includes circa 70 pieces, such as furniture, household objects, for instance, that are telling of the commercial and cultural interaction between Portugal and India during the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

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Other highlights when it comes to visiting the Museu Soares dos Reis are the two other temporary exhibitions: “José Régio: [Re]visitações à Torre de Marfim”, on show until 1 August. This exhibit was curated by Rui Maia and gathers over 100 drawings of an intimate feel and three handwritten handbooks by the poet, which intertwine drawing and poetry.

This exhibition was organised by the Municipalities of Vila do Conde and Portalegre, which were very close to both the José Régio’s life and work. The show was on display in 2019, on the occasion of the 50 years of the death of the poet, and it can now be visited in Porto.

The third temporary exhibition is on show until 31 August and it is themed “Depositarium… 1”. This is the first show of a cycle whose goal is to raise awareness on an acquis that is relatively unknown to the public, such as ceramic, sculptures, goldsmithery and jewellery, painting, textile pieces, which have been selected by the MNSR collaborators to be included in the display. Future exhibitions may have the contribution of people within the community, as declared António Ponte to Lusa.

The Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis also holds a partnership with Porto Design Biennale, this month of June, with a set of exhibitions and installations.

The museum is closed on Mondays and reopens from Tuesday to Sunday, between 10 am and 6 pm.