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National Museum of Ethnology

Includes around 40.000 objects from different parts of the world.

The collection of the National Museum of Ethnology includes around 40.000 objects from different parts of the world, although most of them are from Portugal – mainland and islands – and its former colonies. The museum currently hosts its permanent exhibition “The museum, many things”. It is built around seven rotating main themes: Balinese shadow theatre; dolls from Southwest Angola; pot lids with sayings from Cabinda; masks and puppets from Mali; Portuguese folk music instruments; tallies from Rio de Onor (dedicated to one object); and Franklim’s sculpture (dedicated to one author). This collection draws mainly on the results of an intensive internship programme promoted by the museum. Besides, the museum provides public access to two reserve collections: the Rural Life Galleries featuring objects assembled from the agricultural, grazing, traditional technologies and home utensils collections; and the Amazonian Galleries including objects from around 40 Amazon tribes, especially from Brazil.

The National Museum of Ethnology cannot be dissociated from the history of Portuguese anthropology.

In 1959, an exhibition entitled “Life and Art of the Maconde People” is put together based on research conducted by Jorge Dias on the ethnic minorities of the Portuguese overseas empire. This was the inspiring moment that led to the establishment of the “Museum of Overseas Ethnology” in 1965 having the ethnologist Jorge Dias as its first director. After his death (1973), Ernesto Veiga de Oliveira became the new director of the museum, which became known as the Ethnology Museum.

The museum was transferred from its temporary facilities to a purpose-built building in 1975 and opened its doors the following year. It became part of the Institute of Portuguese Museums in 1990, and became known as National Museum of Ethnology (MNE). 


Source: DGPC (