'Museum of Descoveries' at the National Museum of Ancient Art

The MNAA inaugurates an exhibition that takes us on a trip through the backstage of the institution and makes us reflect on the museum's role.

Usually, that door is not open. But now it will be. Halfway through the exhibition "Museum of Discoveries", which opens this Thursday at the National Museum of Ancient Art (MNAA) in Lisbon, visitors find an open doorway that leads to some narrow staircases. One must go up and see that little wonder: the sacristy of Capela das Albertas ("Albertas Chapel" in English), with its walls covered in marvelous blue tiles. "We will allow access to the sacristy for the first time", assures Anísio Franco, one of the MNAA curators. "The space will be undergoing a restoration, people will be working here, and the exhibition visitors will be able to follow the restoration progress."You will only be able to take a peek - and to see that, beyond another door is Capela das Albertas, a part of the building where the museum is located. However, it will be a discovery. One of the many discoveries provided by this new exhibition.

The title of the exhibition is admittedly provocative. At a time when we are discussing the necessity (or not) of having a museum dedicated to the maritime expansion trips in Portugal, and at a time when all over the world the colonialist perspective that we still have of these voyages and the use of the term "discoveries" are being debated, the MNAA appears with a "Museum of Discoveries." But let's be clear: this is not an exhibition about discoveries.

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