While in Lisbon, I decided to spend a morning visiting the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation slightly to the north of the city. It’s an easy 5 minute walk from the San Sebastião metro station and also close to the Praça de Espanha station, although I chose the former.
I visited the Modern Art exhibition centre rather than the main museum, which I believe houses more historic art; with more time I would have visited both. I also took the opportunity to stroll around the gardens, which can be visited free of charge.
One thing which really struck me about the exhibition centre was that they had gone to a lot of effort to ensure that the whole building was accessible. This was not true of most of the places we visited in Lisbon so was a refreshing change.
The art primarily consisted of 3 temporary exhibitions, so I can’t really tell you what you’ll see because it depends on when you visit. When I was there they were featuring work by Ana Torfs, Hein Semke and a mixed exhibition themed around houses. I enjoyed the artwork and spent about 1 1/4 hours taking an unhurried look around. Admission was 5 euros but if you’re over 65 you get a 50% reduction and carers of disabled people with limited mobility get in for free (the only place in Lisbon where I spotted this concession).
I then spent slightly longer wandering around the gardens, although admittedly that included a 20 minute coffee break because it was raining. I actually enjoyed the Gulbenkian gardens more than either of the ones I had to pay to visit (Botanic Garden in Lisbon and Tropical Garden in Belem). They hold an outdoor theatre, a cafe (you can also use the cafes at the modern art centre and the art library without paying for admission, all are fully accessible) streams, lakes and wooded areas with the added attraction of artworks dispersed around the area. Although there are a lot of very tempting winding paths with steps there’s also an accessible route which enables you to see most of the gardens. And there are waterfowl everywhere, including some seriously cute ducklings when I visited in April (in my opinion artwork is always improved by the presence of ducks!). The gardens are free of charge, you can visit them without going into the museum or modern art building if you wish.