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Doutor. José Leite de Vasconcelos
Doutor. José Leite de Vasconcelos
The National Museum of Archaeology

"A centenary institution of Portuguese Culture"

Today’s National Museum of Archaeology (MNA) was founded in 1893 by Dr. José Leite de Vasconcelos (therefore the more complete official designation of the Museum, as published in "Diário da República": Dr. Leite de Vasconcelos’National Museum of Archaeology). In more than a century of existence this Museum became a reference institution of Portuguese archaeology, with regular correspondence with museums, universities and research centres all over the World.
The Museum’s collections gather the Founder’s first collections and those of Estácio da Veiga.  Many other have been added, some come from other State departments (for example: archaeology collections of the old Portuguese Royal House, integrated in the Museum after the settlement of the Republic; archaeology collections of the former Beaux Arts Museum, incorporated when today’s National Museum of Ancient Art was created; etc.), another ones come from donations or legacies of collectors and devoted friends of the Museum (for example: donations Bustorff Silva, Luís Bramão, Samuel Levy, etc.), others come from the intense field work activity  developed by the Museum or by other archaeologists; another ones from government dispatches, within the law, whenever archaeological finds in the Country are thought of national value.
Besides the exhibitions, the Museum offers society (Portuguese and foreign) several other services: regular publications (of which stands out the scientific journal “O Arqueólogo Português”  - “The Portuguese Archaeologist”, published since 1895 and the most important of its type in Portugal with a net of over 300 correspondent institutions throughout the World), the conservation and restoration of archaeological artefacts, seminars, conferences and courses of the speciality, an educational and cultural extension service, a specialized library (the most important in Portugal and the only one which, nowadays, continues regularly open to the public, among the national museums), a shop and a bookshop, fundamental scientific research, etc.
Conceived by its founder to be a kind of "Museum of the Portuguese Man", the MNA still follows the same basic vocation, that is, to account for the history of the settlement of our territory, from the beginning to the foundation of the nationality. It is the only institution in Portugal capable of doing it: because of its collections, its technical resources, its location in the Jerónimos Monastery (actual meeting point of nationals and foreigners), with special prominence to the schools from across the Country, which fully occupy the Museum's education department, yearly.

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More information History

José Leite de Vasconcelos, the founder and first director of today’s National Museum of Archaeology, at the time called Portuguese Ethnographic Museum, is an outstanding personality in the Portuguese Culture of the 19th - 20th centuries. The importance and variety of his work are clearly evident in several books and homage sessions dedicated to him, during his life and after his death, in 1941, at the age of 82 - a work which includes almost every aspect on the approach to the "Portuguese Man’s study”, of the past, of the present and especially on its common side: Philology and Linguistics, Literature, Ethnography, Numismatics, Archaeology, etc.

download - text about Dr. Leite de Vasconcelos [pdf] [59kb]


Caricature of Leite de Vasconcelos


Leite de Vasconcelos’ caricature. Press cutting from “O Século Cómico”, which belongs to the legacy.

download 4 caricaturas.zip

ancient photographs of the MNA

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  last update: 24/05/2017
next update: 16/06/2017

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