For the first time the exhibition to be held at the Moscow Kremlin Museums refers to the history and culture of the Portuguese colonial empire of the 16th–18th centuries. It was the first colonial empire of the early modern period, playing a crucial role in world history. The Portuguese were the pioneers to change the previously existing communication system and to have the civilizations of Africa, South and East Asia so closely connected to Europe. As a result, the intersection of cultural traditions became a perfect ground for entirely new forms to emerge, where the legacy of the East and the West melted and acquired a totally different quality, creating fascinating works of art, unique for their impact.
More than two hundred artifacts from museums and private collections in Portugal, Russia and other countries will help to demonstrate, on the one hand, the magnificence of the Portuguese court, the traditions of Portuguese navigation, science and culture. On the other hand, they will present vivid evidence of mutual influence and cultural exchange between the metropolitan power and its dominions in India, China, Japan, Africa and Brazil.
The first section of the exhibition will feature history and unique culture of Portugal. This section will basically focus on the royal court, role of the church as well as naval power of Portugal, which enabled the creation of the colonial empire. Exhibits in this section include portraits and items which belonged to the rulers, military commanders, explorers, who played an important role in the history of the Portuguese colonial empire, ceremonial objects from palaces, jewellery, coins, liturgical objects, weapons and armour, documents, engravings, atlases, maps, navigation instruments and tools, manuscripts and books of the 16th–17th centuries.
The second section presents pieces created in different parts of the colonial empire under the influence of Portuguese and European culture, as well as exhibits illustrating history of the establishment and life of the Portuguese colonial empire. To a certain degree the large-scale missionary work resulted in the appearance of quite unusual, exotic items intended for church use. Of great interest are works of local art, which depict Europeans. The Age of Discovery witnessed the flooding of Europe with exotic natural materials and luxury goods made of them, becoming an indispensable attribute of European treasuries and first 'Cabinets of Curiosities' (Wunderkammer). Works with similar provenance, including masterpieces from the Treasury of Russian Tsars, will occupy a well deserved place in this section's display.
The catalogue consists of two sections describing the features of history and art of Portugal and its colonial possessions. The exhibits presented belong to the collections of the museums, archives, libraries and private collections from Lisbon, London, Madrid, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The first section 'Formation of the Portuguese Navy Empire' introduces European, mainly Portuguese works created in the late 15th - mid-18th century, evidences of significant historical events reflecting the main developmental milestones of Portuguese culture. Another section 'Meeting of the Civilizations: Conquest, Missionary work, Dialogues of Cultures' includes artifacts principally made in different colonies of the empire under the impact and in collaboration with Portuguese and all-European culture. The catalogue is on sale at the exhibition hall of the Assumption Belfry, the museum shops opposite the Patriarch's Palace, at the Alexander Garden and Armoury Chamber. Price: 2,500 RUB.