Portugal in the Opening of the World

Article excerpt

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. …