An Invitation?
he Azulejo is one of the most expressive forms of Culture in Portugal and one of the most original contributions that the genius of the Portuguese has made to Universal Culture.
In this country the Azulejo has gone far beyond its merely utilitarian function and its use as an ornamental art form. Rather, by offering a poetic contribution to the creation of our architecture and cities, it has attained the transcendental status of Art.
The Camões Institute?s choice of the Azulejo as the subject for its project to disseminate one of the aspects of Portuguese Culture around the world is thus most appropriate and opportune, and the National Azulejo Museum has been very pleased to provide technical assistance in the production of the Exhibition.
The existence of a National Azulejo Museum in Lisbon clearly reveals the value that is attributed to this Art in Portugal - a value which results not only from the vast heritage that exists throughout the country and the former Portuguese Empire, which stretched from Brazil and Africa to India, but also from the fact that in both past and present terms it exemplifies the practical intelligence and the sensibility of the Portuguese people.
The National Azulejo Museum is now one of the most important ceramics museums anywhere in the world. More than just a source of inspiration for the collection of Azulejos, it constitutes an invitation to visit Portugal in search of the monumental creations that are still to be found in their original settings and thereby to really understand the deep relationship between the Azulejo, architecture and the city.
The National Azulejo Museum functions as a centre for ceramic studies, particularly in relation to architectural coverings. Its key activities include research into the History of Art and Ceramics and the inventorying, conservation and restoration of Azulejos.
Just as the National Azulejo Museum in Lisbon invites you to visit the Azulejos all around the country, I also hope that this Exhibition will serve as an invitation to get to know the fascinating surfaces covered with Portuguese Azulejos, or that at the very least it will be able to effectively evoke an albeit distant vision of their presence.

Paulo Henriques
Director of the National Azulejo Museum
© Instituto Camões, 2000