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Art with Friends: A Perfect Day in Porto for Female Travelers

In May 2024, a small group of six women explored the Serralves Museum during the Art with Friends journey to Portugal. This visit was one of the highlights of our trip. We marveled at the stunning Art Deco villa, the engaging exhibitions, and the tranquil gardens, enjoying a day filled with artistic inspiration and historical appreciation.

The Art Deco Villa and Gardens Discovering the Serralves Museum

In a picturesque park in Porto, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art stands as a testament to the fusion of art, architecture, and nature. Its captivating history begins with the iconic Art Deco villa and gardens, designed to be a beacon of modernity and taste in the early 20th century. This historic site, along with the museum's contemporary exhibitions, creates a vibrant dialogue between the past and the present, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Art with Friends in Portugal, women travelers, small group, at museums seeing Modern artists Miro and Calder Serralves Museum

The Art Deco Villa and Gardens Art with Friends: A Perfect Day in Porto for Female Travelers

The story of the Serralves Villa begins with Carlos Alberto Cabral, the 2nd Count of Vizela, who was inspired by the Art Deco movement during his visit to the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. Enamored by the modern style, Cabral embarked on a mission to bring this aesthetic to Porto. The villa, known locally as 'Casa Cor de Rosa' or the Pink House, was built on the site of his family's 19th-century farmhouse, symbolizing a shift towards contemporary elegance.

Construction of the villa commenced in 1927 under the supervision of Portuguese architect José Marques da Silva, with significant contributions from French architect Charles Siclis, who envisioned the villa's distinctive pink hue. The interior, initially designed by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and later completed by his nephew Alfred Porteneuve, showcased exquisite Art Deco details, from pink marble bathrooms to parquet flooring and Lalique-designed glass rooflights. The villa's gardens, meticulously crafted by French landscape architect Jacques Gréber, feature geometric parterres and serene water features, enhancing the villa's sophisticated ambiance.

Art with Friends in Portugal, women travelers, small group, at museums seeing gardens and art

Miró and Calder: A Harmonious Presence

The Serralves Villa's Art Deco charm provides a perfect backdrop for the works of Joan Miró and Alexander Calder. The exhibition "Space in Motion" masterfully juxtaposes Calder's dynamic sculptures with Miró's vibrant paintings, creating a dialogue that resonates with the villa's elegant lines and timeless design. Calder's mobiles, with their fluid, organic forms, contrast beautifully with the structured Art Deco interiors, while Miró's abstract canvases add a burst of color and whimsy, bringing the space to life.

Art with Friends in Portugal, women traveling in a small group to see Modern art in Porto

Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Room

Adjacent to the historic villa, the Serralves Museum's modern extension, designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira, seamlessly integrates with the surrounding gardens, creating a harmonious blend of architecture and nature. The new section recently hosted the "Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now" exhibition, which captivated visitors with its exploration of Kusama's avant-garde journey. A highlight of the exhibition was the Infinity Room, an immersive installation filled with an endless sea of white and black polka-dotted balls, offering a mesmerizing experience of boundless reflection and connectivity.

Lauren Jimerson posing with Yayoi Kusama on an Art with Friends trip to Portugal solo female traveler

Kapwani Kiwanga: Where Salt and Freshwater Meet

On display this spring at the Serralves Museum was the first solo exhibition in Portugal by Canadian and French artist Kapwani Kiwanga. Known for her multidisciplinary approach that combines research in the humanities and social sciences, Kiwanga's work often delves into the themes of power and historical narratives. Her installation at Serralves, titled "Where Salt and Freshwater Meet and Crooked Trees Filter the Sun," transforms the central room of the museum into a large-scale tableau. Using approximately 14,000 meters of vibrant colored cotton ropes, Kiwanga creates a dynamic environment where natural light plays a crucial role, enhancing the transparency and layering of the installation.

Kiwanga's exhibition not only showcases her artistic prowess but also marks an important milestone as she represents Canada at the 2024 Venice Biennale. Her work at Serralves, much like her previous projects, challenges audiences to reconsider historical and contemporary power imbalances through an imaginative and research-driven approach.

Kapwani Kiwanga at the Serralves Museum Lauren Jimerson Art with Friends

Culinary Delights at Le Monument: A Perfect End to a Perfect Day

That evening, we dined at the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Monument, headed by the talented French chef Julien Montbabut. Located in the heart of Porto, Le Monument offered a culinary experience that perfectly mirrored the day's blend of French and Portuguese influences. After spending two years exploring the wonders of Portugal, Chef Montbabut crafted a menu that interpreted the culinary highlights of the country through refined French techniques.

The extravagant meal featured dishes that harmoniously blended the flavors and traditions of Portugal with the sophistication of French cuisine, creating an unforgettable dining experience. This exquisite dinner at Le Monument, coupled with the artistic exploration at Serralves, made for a perfect day that beautifully intertwined the cultural and culinary arts of Portugal and France.

Le Monument Art with Friends Culinary Experience Female Travelers Women Group Travel Porto


The Serralves Museum is a living, breathing space where modern and contemporary art converge. From the Art Deco splendor of the villa to the cutting-edge installations in the new museum section, Serralves offers a rich array of architectural and artistic expression. Whether you are drawn to the timeless elegance of the early 20th century or the provocative works of female artists like Kusama and Kiwanga, Serralves promises an uplifting journey through the world of modern and contemporary art. The experience is further enriched by the local culinary delights, making it a perfect destination for women who appreciate the finer things in life. Art with Friends: A Perfect Day in Porto for Female Travelers

Travel tips for women who love art.


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