Portugal – Academy of Sciences of Lisbon

01 05 2021

In 1779, Portugal aligning itself with the dynamics of structuring and disseminating science with different European countries sees the Royal Academy of Sciences of Lisbon created by Queen D. Maria I. It was the birth of an enlightened proposal where archaism gave way to modernity, handicrafts gave way to technology. Since then the Lisbon Academy […]

In 1779, Portugal aligning itself with the dynamics of structuring and disseminating science with different European countries sees the Royal Academy of Sciences of Lisbon created by Queen D. Maria I. It was the birth of an enlightened proposal where archaism gave way to modernity, handicrafts gave way to technology. Since then the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, became an institution for the promotion of science and the dissemination of scientific knowledge. The newly created Academy adopts the maxim of Fedro Nisi utile est quod facimus stulta est gloria, that is, if what we do is not useful the glory is in vain, an idea present in Vandelli who defended that the Academy to be created should be dedicated to Sciences and its applications. It was not a merely conventional contribution with the simple aim of following the cultural progress of the time, but a conscious and active intervention in national life, seeking to interest and enthuse Portuguese mentalities in the execution of a program to elevate the country within the scope of the sciences and techniques. It was made up of the Natural Sciences, Exact Sciences and Fine-Arts Classes, with effective and correspondent members, in addition to foreign correspondents.

Among the initial members several renowned foreign scientists, namely Carl von Linné (son), Carlo Allione, Casimiro Ortega, Christian Früs Rottböll, Giovanni António Scopoli, Hupsch-Lonzen, Jacob Christian Schaeffer and Johan Christian Daniel Schreber have to be mentioned.


The Lisbon Academy of Sciences is an Institution of public interest, installed in the Convento de Jesus, which construction began in the 17th century and survived to 1755 earthquake.

Mission, Vision and Objectives

Under statutory terms, it is incumbent upon the Lisbon Science Academy to: (1) promote scientific research and disseminate its results; (2) promote the study of the History of Portugal and its relations with other nations; (3) promote the enrichment of thought, literature, language and other sources of national science and culture; (4) contribute to the progress of science and culture in the country; (5) provide the Portuguese Government with consultancy on linguistic and scientific matters of national interest, coordinating its action with the network of European and world academies, with special attention to those of Portuguese-speaking countries; (6) contribute to the information, knowledge and wisdom society with a view to enhance Portuguese participation in globalism.

The Lisbon Academy of Sciences is now constituted of two classes (Sciences; Letters and Humanities). Each Class is constituted by 5 effective members per section and 10 correspondents per section (7) each one corresponding to a scientific area in a total of 105 per Class, which means a total of 210 members (effective and correspondents). It has also Emeritus and Honorary members. Renowned scientists in the different scientific domains from all over the world constitute an important number of foreign correspondent members.

The two classes have scientific meetings every week at Thursday. The abstracts (Portuguese and English versions) of the presentations are published in the website (www.acad-ciencias.pt) and the texts are published in the Memórias da Academia das Ciências de Lisboa also available as books or in the web page (Academia digital).
The Sciences Academy of Lisbon integrates: (1) The Institute for High Studies; (2) The Institute of Lexicology and Lexicography of the Portuguese language; (3) The Library; (4) The Maynense Museum.

The Institute of High Studies

It’s main mission is to promote the transmission of scientific knowledge and culture through conferences authored by high standard scientists giving the participants the opportunity to be informed of the new and current scientific developments in the different fields of knowledge, enabling the helder to continue learning along life. In this Institute, emerged the Permanent Seminar for Young Scientists (SJC) an institution similar to the Young Academies.

The Institute of Lexicology and Lexicography of the Portuguese Language

This Institute is responsible for creation, promotion and support of research centers activity necessary for the defense and enrichment of the Portuguese lexicon as well as and the organization of meetings, within the areas of lexicology and lexicography of the Portuguese language.
This national property preserves not only the wealth per se, but also the extraordinary patrimonial wealth of its noble hall, former library of the Convent, which ceiling is decorated with paintings attributed to Pedro Alexandrino de Carvalho.

The Library

It is rich in works of scientific character, for example, of Kepler, Newton, Linné, Buffon, and many other authors of nominee. They were used, especially to support the teaching activities practiced at the Aula Maynense during the monastery time and after. Others include Philosophy, Theology, incunabula, manuscripts, periodicals, etc. The so-called Red Series (from the Convent) and Blue Series are prominent. In addition to Portuguese documentation, many other origins are represented, of which, due to the growing interest in our days, Islamic and Chinese nuclei are worthy of note, along with works from Spain and other European countries. One of the oldest pieces is a scroll from the beginning of the century. XII with a donation from Queen D. Teresa and her son, D. Afonso Henriques. Several date from the 19th century. XIV, but there are many more recent ones. Among the heritage of exceptional value, which preservation and protection is the first priority, there is the sumptuous copy, ordered by D. Duarte, reigning D. João I, of CHRONICA GERAL DE HESPANHA DE 1344; the BOOK OF HOURS of the Countess of Bretiandos, (first half of the century XVI); the MISSAL by Estêvão Gonçalves Netto (1610-ca.1620), a masterpiece of Portuguese illumination; the BOOK OF ARMADAS, an eloquent testimony of Portuguese navigations, their successes and dramas; the famous ATLAS DE FERNÃO VAZ DOURADO, also from the 19th century, (perhaps the first to appear in Japan). It includes around 3000 Portuguese, Arab, Spanish and Hebrew manuscripts and an invaluable collection of books by the secs. XIV, XV, XVI, XVII and one of the most complete collections of periodicals from all over the world in the areas of Sciences and Humanities.

The Maynense Museum

This museum has its origins in the Monastery. Their activities aim at: (1) the conservation and study of its collections; (2) the promotion and dissemination of the Academy’s museological heritage (Virtual exhibitions can be followed at : https://www.galeria-arf-acad-ciencias.pt/. and https://prezi.com/view/PBHI4groFgqKgOuVFQB4/.) ; (3) the attendance of visitors and conduction of guided tours.

Among the collections belonging to the Museum, we can mention: a) Pinacoteca of the monastery and other, including an excellent set of pictures from notable friars from the Convent of Jesus. Others include the portrait of king Jorge III of England offered in 1810 to the Academy by one of his sons; b) Statuary: busts of Alexander the Great and Roman Emperors, the bust of D. João de Bragança, 2nd Duke of Lafões and 1st President of the Academy, signed by Machado de Castro; c) Relics of the Convent of Jesus, gifts from D. Pedro III; d) Ethnographic and other material: with emphasis to the collection from the expedition of Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira in Brazil (1783-1792); – the collection, from British Columbia and Hawaii, obtained in the 3rd and last expedition of James Cook and transferred to the Academy thanks to Sir Joseph Banks (President of the Royal Society and Member of our Academy) and to his friend the abbot Correa da Serra; Valuable set of ceramics from Peru, from the Chimú and Lambayeque Cultures, offered by the Count of S. Januário in the 19th century to the Royal Academy of Sciences; Other important materials include ceramics from India and Chinae) Remains of zoological, botanical / xylological, paleontological, mineralogical, archaeological collections. Notable scientists, namely father Jiao de Flourier (pioneer I palaeontology and renown botanist), Jiao da Sylva Feijó, both members of the Academy, the Baron Wilhelm von Eschwege Alexandre António Vandelli; Collections of Physics instruments (with some Chemistry equipment) highlighting a precious set from the 19th century, including specimens from renown manufacturers in Paris and London. The Excavation collection, also included in Museum’s collection contains human and animal remains of the 1755 Earthquake.


Lisbon, may 2021