advertisement

In the 1990s, Portugal got lucky. Madeira-born businessman Joe Berardo, after making a fortune in South African gold, decided the art works he'd purchased over the years should be thrown out to public view. Thus one of the world's greatest private collections of modern art found its way to the vast white halls of this museum embedded in the Belém Cultural Center. The collection is divided into two parts. The first features sculpture and painting from 1900 to 1960 and is littered with works by Picasso, Miró, Warhol, and other acknowledged masters of 20th-century art. The post-1960 section covers the latest movements of contemporary creativity from minimalism to Arte Povera and traumatic realism. There are six-foot robots made from flickering TV screens, a giant submarine suspended from the ceiling and filled with little wooden characters in a room playing African pop music, and a life-size plastic sheepdog by Jeff Koons. Berardo's collection is vast enough to also allow for regular temporary exhibitions; one in 2013–14 featured a hundred years of advertising posters and autographed photos of stars like Laurence Olivier, Harry Belafonte, and Liberace.