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One of Porto's cultural highlights for visitors has to be on the outskirts of Portugal's second city, comprising a 1930-40s Art Deco villa, a landscape-specific contemporary museum designed by Álvaro Siza that opened in 1999, and a surrounding park of 18 hectares that are visited for its sculptures as well as for its biodiversity.
In a dusty pink colour, the beautiful Art Deco architecture of the villa was built by the Porto architect José Marques da Silva as the family summer residence of Count Carlos Alberto Cabral, who were textile manufacturers. The private residence is spread over three floors by combining neoclassical, romantic, and art deco elements created by the culturati of the day -Marques da Silva, Charles Siclis, Jacques Émile Ruhlmann, René Lalique and Edgar Brandt. Only some of the original furniture can still be viewed, but features like the René Lalique skylight and the two-storey central hall are peeks into how the industrial elite of Portugal lived at the time.
The surrounding park, made up of landscaped gardens, was designed by João Gomes da Silva, and still contains the most important species that occupied the land before. Today, it displays sculptures by Claes Oldenburg, Dan Graham, and Richard Serra permanently.
The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art itself is housed in the contemporary Álvaro Siza building. A low-rise structure that interferes with the landscape as little as possible, it’s a serene, minimalist structure in white stucco, which integrates beautifully with its surroundings. As the Foundation’s primary exhibition space, the museum organizes three parallel exhibitions in its central body and two wings a year. An L-shaped patio structure complements the whole. Well-known artists like Franz West, Luc Tuymans, Bruce Nauman and Helena Almeida have had exhibitions here.