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Portugal in the opening of the world.

On September 25, 1990, an extraordinary exhibition on the Portuguese era of discovery was inaugurated at the OAS Museum of Modern Art of Latin American in Washington, D.C. Present for the occasion were the Prime Minister of Portugal, Professor Anibal Cavaco Silva; the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Joao Clemente Baena Soares, and other dignitaries from North and South America.

The story of the Portuguese Renaissance, and of voyages to Africa, Brazil, China and India, is told through colorful maps, charts, illustrations and paintings vividly reproduced on panels. This exhibit, organized by the National Commission for the Commemoration of Portuguese Discoveries in Lisbon, is visual evidence of the focus which both the OAS and the Government of Portugal have adopted for the Quincentennial Commemoration: the propagation of knowledge and an increased understanding of diverse cultures.

The exhibit was conceived by the renowened Portuguese historian, Luis Felipe Barreto, whose work explores the cultural and geographic factors which propelled the Portuguese into the intellectual and territorial explorations of the 15th and 16th centuries.

These two centuries witnessed a farflung expansion of the peoples of Christian Europe, in which Portugal played a fundamental and pioneering role. Portugal was the first modern European nation to extend the frontiers of its political, economic and social power and the only nation of the time to establish definite links with all of the earth's continents.

The Portuguese not only altered geographic boundaries on a global scale, they also breached the traditional horizons of knowledge and initiated the building of a world culture. Their contributions to the fields of natural and applied sciences, nautical astronomy, cartography and naval contruction were essential to the progress of mankind. As Garcia de Orta wrote in 1563, "the discovery and knowledge of more lands has brought us the discovery of many of the errors of the past." Portuguese seamanship was characterized by the capacity to adapt, apply and transform traditional knowledge in a creative manner, the very essence of the scientific approach.

The Portuguese of the Renaissance were the eys of Europe. They collected the critical information relating to religion, politics, botany, zoology, mineralogy, hydrography and geography that later enabled other European nations to expand. The explosion of information supplied by the Portuguese voyagers, stimulated a humanistic discourse about man and the secular nature of his world.

While on view in Washington, D.C. the exhibition coincided with a major international art history conference entitled "Spain and Portugal in the Time of the Navigators," which was also sponsored by the OAS, in collaboration with Georgetown University, George Washington University and the governments of Spain and Portugal.

In the coming months, this enlightening exhibition will travel to Brazil, where it will be seen in the cities of Sao Paulo, Florianapolis, Belem do Para and Brasilia.
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Title Annotation:exhibition on the Portuguese, era of discovery at the OAS Museum of Modern Art of Latin America in Washington, D.C.
Author:Kiernan, James Patrick
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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