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24. MAAT Museum
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It was born less than ten years ago, by the riverside, but today it seems like it has always been there. It is part of the riverside landscape, it does not stand out, even though it has innovated. The maat – Art, Architecture and Technology museum, designed by British architect Amanda Levete, was inaugurated in 2016 and quickly became one of the must-see stops in the city, both for its rich exhibition agenda and for the building, which is different from anything else in Lisbon. When Amanda Levete designed the museum, she thought of it as a whole. In other words, the architect created a space to be enjoyed inside and outside, making the museum’s canopy a pedestrian space, where one can freely circulate on the “roof”, accessible also through the viaduct, also designed by Amanda Levete, which connects Avenida da Índia to maat – it even functions as a cycle path and its curved structure was designed to facilitate access for people with reduced mobility. The museum, which belongs to the EDP Foundation, is in fact quite fluid as when you arrive at the museum entrance, for example, there is a path to the canopy with a small terrace. There, in that area, it is as if we were inside the eye of maat, with a unique and close view of the river and the other side. A fluidity and openness that are also found in the museum’s programming, which aims to foster dialogue between different art forms, provoking discussion and launching new understandings. The way the visit itself is organized, in a circular form, is an example of this. When it did not yet exist, maat was announced as “a cultural center without barriers” and that is where it has been positioning itself. The museum, owned by the EDP Foundation, is connected, in an umbilical way, through a garden designed by Lebanese landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic, to Central Tejo, the former coal-fired power station that supplied electricity to the Lisbon region uninterrupted from 1909 to 1954, and which today remains as an exhibition space. Together, they cover an exhibition area of 38,000 square meters, with space for the house collection, the Portuguese Art Collection EDP Foundation, which currently has about 2500 works, by more than 300 artists, including names such as Helena Almeida, Lourdes de Castro, Jorge Molder, or Julião Sarmento. A collection, by the way, that is constantly growing, crossing various generations and languages. The agenda is intense, with national and international exhibitions, many of them loaded with interactivity as expected from a museum that does not want to stand still. The life that is outside, in a space that quickly became occupied by walks, runs, bicycles, and scooters, is what is expected to continue inside. The maat is increasingly becoming an important point on the national cultural itinerary, accessible to all audiences and ages. It is not an exaggeration to say that there is a before and after maat in the city.