Museu Rua dos Douradores: The Bernardo Soares Collection

Bernardo Soares was born, lived, and died on Rua dos Douradores in Lisbon. In his relatively brief life he rarely left his hometown, and his most famous work was created within the ramparts that defined the capital in the first half of the 20th century. Soares was a renowned figure in Lisbon who took pleasure in strolling that ancient city’s streets and observing its colorful occupants. Soares was himself an object of observation and a frequent subject of satirical jokes. An oddball with few friends or close relatives growing up, he formed his sense of self largely through his dreams, the only place he once said, “where one can be ruler of the world.”



The Bernardo Soares Collection contains items that have either been in the possession of Bernardo Soares, or objects that can be related to this essential thinker. In the collection, one will find furniture, personal belongings, and interpretations of Soares’s creations by other artists. Other noticeable elements in the collection include his notebook, a series of photographs, and drawings. You can have a look at his replicated working study, read The Unwritten Quarterly – the magazine he famously created, then take a quick break and watch the experimental documentary that was made in honor of his life.

Many of the characters that Soares included in The Unwritten Quarterly, has now since become well know. On display are three bronze sculptures donated by local artists.


The Unwritten Quarterly is a literary magazine created by Bernardo Soares. Although some might suspect that multiple authors are behind the individual articles, they can with equal possibility have been authored by one and the same. Soares writes in his editorial letter: “I once created a writer, whom I used as a tool, so that I could eventually make myself into nothing. I made myself into nothing so that I could become everything and everyone. I am several, am many, I am a profusion of selves. In the process I may have lost myself. But what I really gained was the possibility of becoming anyone.”



The collection has been reviewed in publications such as The New Yorker, New York Times, and Artforum. 



Among the gems of the collection is a unique Christian icon of Saint Andrew. Soares writes: “Since the human spirit naturally tends to make judgments based on feelings instead of reason, most of these young people chose Humanity to replace God. I, however, am the sort of person who is always on the fringe of what he belongs to, seeing not only the multitude he’s a part of but also the wide-open spaces around it. That’s why I didn’t give up God as completely as they did, and I never accepted Humanity.” Icons influenced him deeply, not simply as artistic flourishes, but as the incomprehensible object it is meant to convey. Seven similar icons were found in his belongings. Soares writes, “There are images that live more vividly than many men and women. (…) To visualize the contradictory and inconceivable is one of life’s great triumphs.”


If the museum visit is exhausting, the visitor can take a quick break, sit down on the bed and watch the experimental documentary that was made in honor of his life. Click here, or on the image of the television to watch the video.

  • May 14th, 2011