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There may have been a slight drizzle in Porto, Portugal on Friday evening, but that didn’t ruin the festivities that were to take place at the Serralves Foundation. The annual gala marked the foundation’s 25th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of the Álvaro Siza-designed Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses works by artists like Portugal’s own Paula Rego, Vietnamese-Danish Danh Vō, and Argentinean Amalia Pica.Instead of gathering outside on the magnificent front yard of the Serralves Villa, the former home of the Count of Vizela Carlos Alberto Cabral, guests were invited into the magnificent salmon-colored, 1930s Art Deco home where they were greeted by the contemplative, soulful sounds of Chicago artist Theaster Gates’ musical ensemble, The Black Monks of Mississippi, who had just completed a two-week residency in the form of a monastic retreat on the grounds.
Museum director Suzanne Cotter and deputy director and senior curator João Riba welcomed some 600 guests (including Portuguese artists Julião Sarmento and Rui Chafes), who sipped on sparking rosé and nibbled on cod fritters and foie gras before listening to a speech given by Portuguese prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho. Afterwards, they headed into a grand tent to dine on oysters escabeche, a seafood soup, and chicken breast with Douro wines and mini vegetables.
After dinner, a dance floor that lay beneath not one, but ten disco balls awaited and the crowd boogied down to a cover band that sang everything from Lionel Richie to David Guetta. Although the Serralves Foundation may not be a familiar name to those outside its native Portugal, there’s reason why even the head of state attended—it’s the country’s most-visited museum.