The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga invites us to look at art in a new light – Lisboa Green Capital 2020
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The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga invites us to look at art in a new light

If until now we looked at the art on display at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (MNAA) and noticed the colours, the delicacy of the strokes or the execution of the work, now we are invited to look at the art with different eyes, the eyes of a botanist.

MNAA, in association with Lisboa European Green Capital 2020, has created an itinerary about the botanical representation that we have in some works of the collection. There are more than 100 species that contemplate plants, flowers and fruits and whose symbolic meaning is revealed in more than 30 sets of paintings.

The journey begins with the great retabular sets of Portuguese painting from the early 16th century and continues through the most diverse examples. Sugarcane, fig leaves, garlands or date palms are some of the species you will find on this journey through time. The invitation is made – come to know the natural world hidden in these works.

The museum

Created in 1884, housed for almost 130 years ago in the Alvor Palace and fulfilling more than a century of its current designation, the MNAA-Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga houses the most relevant Portuguese public collection, among painting, sculpture, goldsmithery and European, African and Oriental decorative arts.


Comprising more than 40,000 items, the MNAA’s collection comprises the largest number of works of Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts, classified by the State as “national treasures”. It also includes, in various fields, reference works of the world artistic heritage.


History’s legacy (with emphasis on the incorporation of ecclesiastical goods and those from royal palaces), the collection of the National Museum of Ancient Art has been magnified by generous donations and important purchases, illustrating the best that was produced or accumulated in Portugal, between the Middle Ages and the dawn of Contemporary times.