Those with a mischievous sense of humour and a penchant for satire will appreciate the wonderfully quirky and irreverent exhibits in this delightful little museum. Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846--1905) was born in Lisbon and is one of the most remarkable artistic figures in Portuguese culture. He drew inspiration from the cultural and socio-political climate of the time and turned what he saw into an expression for the concerns of the average Portuguese working man. Using his considerable skills as a graphic and decorative artist, potter and as an exponent of plastic art, he produced an impressive, multi-faceted body of work during his lifetime. He was also adept at developing the caricature and the cartoon as forms of artistic expression. The museum's permanent collection of Pinheiro's most important pieces is regularly complemented by temporary exhibitions.
The Museum of the Orient celebrates Portugal's presence in Asia with a multifaceted exhibition that encompasses 500 years of history, from the 15th century to the modern era. The scope and depth of the display is extraordinary, with the relationship between the country and the Far East explored through a series of galleries and themed collections of stunning beauty and considerable rarity. The exhibits will fascinate adults and older children – younger minds will have a lot to take it. Highlights include the Macau gallery where four magnificent antique Chinese folding silk screens enrich the floorspace. Nearby, paintings, sculpture and rare 16th-century Ming porcelain together with graceful Japanese and Korean terracotta figurines further highlight the ancient heritage of this corner of the globe. Other pieces of note include the delicate crucifixes encrusted with mother-of-pearl unearthed in the Holy Land and the bizarre Nepalese exorcism doll.
Here's one for football fans. Benfica is one of the biggest club's in Portugal, and the new Museu Benfica Cosme Damião showcases its illustrious history with a permanent exhibition of polished silverware, memorabilia and other club paraphernalia such as original shirts and match-day programmes. The museum is named after Cosme Damião, one of the club's original 24 founders and a legendary name in Portuguese football. The exhibition, set over three floors, is arranged thematically and chronologically and covers the entire history of the club, from 1904 to the present day. Great Portuguese players like Vitor Silva from the 1930s and the legendary World Cup star Eusébio are honoured along with managers and a host of foreign footballers that have played for the club. One of the most popular exhibits is the Trophy Room, where shelves of gleaming cups, medals and glassware are displayed. And for the football mad, it's possible to combine a visit to the museum with a tour of the stadium.
The National Tile Museum enjoys a beautiful setting within the cloisters of the 16th-century Convento da Madre de Deus in the eastern suburbs of the city. This is one of Portugal's most important cultural institutions and as such visitors often include animated groups of school kids eager to learn more about this unique art form. The museum houses an outstanding collection of decorative panels and tiles (azulejos) including rare early 15th-century examples that borrow Moorish design influences for their pattern. Other pieces draw on Italian, Spanish and Flemish decorative techniques. The patterns and figurative compositions that define 17th-century Portuguese tilework – the blue and white azulejos that embellish many of Lisbon's religious buildings, historic monuments, some restaurants and even one or two cafés – will be more familiar to the eye.
Set sail on a voyage of discovery as you plot a course through this excellent museum. The exhibition charts the history behind the great maritime adventures of Portugal's intrepid 16th-century navigators and beyond, showcasing the country's cherished maritime heritage The model caravels, the sturdy vessels that tamed some of the planet's wildest oceans, are displayed in glorious filigree detail, while a veritable Davy Jones' Locker of armillary spheres, astrolabes, ancient sea charts and other nautical paraphernalia keep adults and kids alike amused and intrigued for hours (look out for Vasco da Gama's portable wooden altar, a revered and priceless exhibit). The museum is housed in the west wing of the Jerónimos monastery but the modern pavilion, which houses a collection of original royal barges, is located on the other side of the concourse.
Youngsters with a budding interest in fashion and design should persuade their parents to visit MUDE, the Museu do Design e da Moda. This shouldn't be hard to do given there's no entrance fee, which makes MUDE one of the city's great bargains. The museum is home to an ever-changing exhibition of apparel, classic haute couture dating from the 1950s, '60s and '70s from celebrated designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior. More contemporary are the examples tailored by Vivien Westwood and Georgio Armani. MUDE is also home to an astonishing variety of vintage homeware, items like chairs, radios and vacuum cleaners designed by Harry Bertoia, Phillipe Starck et al.
One of the city's more unusual museum facilities, the D. Dinis Wall and Interpretation Centre provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse of 13th-century Lisbon. Furthermore, this archaeological wonder is situated below the streets of the Portuguese capital, which only adds to its secretive allure. The medieval wall was discovered during major a refurbishment of the Bank of Portugal headquarters and forms part of a defensive structure built on the orders of King Dinis. Delving into the bowels of the city is an adventure in itself, and besides the ancient ribbon of masonry, the public can admire an exhibition of all sorts of historical artefacts unearthed as the wall was excavated. The museum is as good a history lesson as you'll ever likely to get, the kids will love the spooky setting while grown ups will appreciate the money saved – this wonderful attraction is absolutely free to visit!
OK, so it's not strictly a museum, but this "Science Alive" centre is a veritable playhouse for youngsters, and adults can join in the fun as well. Here it's all about "see, do and learn", where maths, physics and science in general can be explored through a fascinating series of interactive exhibitions, modules and technological play stations designed especially for inquiring young minds – grown ups just make up the numbers! Kids can "launch" their own hydrogen rocket, dish up a plate of knowledge in the kitchen lab – where test tubes are replaced by pots and pans – or enter a mysterious world where dinosaurs roam. A favourite exhibit is the lofty high-wire bicycle that takes young brave hearts from one side of the pavilion to the other.
The historic 17th-century Convento das Bernardes in Lapa is home to the delightfully eccentric puppet museum, the only one of its kind in Portugal. The fascination and diverse collection of colourful marionettes includes examples from 17th- and 18th-century Portuguese theatre and opera – the museum is dedicated to the interpretation and dissemination of the history of puppets and puppet theatre. The exhibits are all finely handcrafted and attired in beautiful costumes, miniature works of art of the stringed, gloved and stick varieties. The collection also features mannequins from across Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. There's a separate gallery displaying an array of fantastic masks, some with extraordinarily delicate features, others with gruesome and contorted faces.
A decommissioned early 20th-century electricity generating station has been transformed in to one of Lisbon's most original and fascinating museums. The building itself is a beautiful example of industrial architecture, but it's the interior that truly impresses. Visitors enter through the Low Pressure Boiler Room, the cathedral-like generating hall. The vintage machinery – steam turbines, furnaces, consoles and piping – is all original and imaginatively lit. The lower level conceals an excellent museum that chronicles the discovery of electricity, with a section devoted to the work of Michael Faraday, who pioneered the development of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. An inter-active exhibition aimed at youngsters allows budding scientists to take part in an array of hands-on experiments that are great fun and wholly educative. In complete contrast to the theme of the museum, the building also hosts a regular series of contemporary art exhibitions and installations.