Sitio da Camara Municipal de Lisboa

Urban Art Galery (GAU)

GAU's mission 

The Galeria de Arte Urbana of the Departamento de Património Cultural (Department of Cultural Heritage), from Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (Lisbon's City Council) has as it's main mission the promotion of graffiti and Street Art in Lisbon, in a official and authorized scope and in a pathway of respect for the patrimonial and landscaped values, in opposition with the illegal acts of vandalism that harm the City. 


GAU's Emergence

In Lisbon's County, the management or urban art is the responsibility of the Departamento de Património cultural - DPC - (Department of Cultural Heritage). The strong increase in the activities associated with street art in recent years led the DPC to create a specialized team in this area. 

GAU was created in 2008, as a result of a cleaning operation of the inscriptions that were vandalizing the facades of some buildings in Bairro Alto. At the time, it was considered important to create an alternative space specifically dedicated to the Urban Art, where it was possible to exercise the activity in a legal and structured way. For this purpose, a set of panels was installed in the neighborhood of Bairro Alto, more specifically at Calçada da Glória, an exhibit space managed by GAU. 

This is how GAU was born. 

After a initial phase dedicated to overcome the resistance and disbelief, from artist as well from the general population, GAU started to be accepted and setting it's role as a "facilitator", recognized in the street art community, which allowed it to reach an increasing number of interlocutors and projects, until it became a national and international platform of reference. 

The strategy of CML/GAU for Urban Art in Lisbon 

In 2009, GAU began to develop a strategy aimed at promoting Urban Art and, at the same time, to safeguard heritage and prevent the appearance of vandalism. 

For GAU, it became a priority the establishment of a dialog with the artistic community connected to graffiti and street art, in order to raise awareness for the importance of the preservation of Lisbon's artistic and cultural heritage, creating an important bond that was reinforced through the creation of available spaces and proper times where these creators can, in an authorized way, develop their creativity, providing them with an increasingly large and heterogeneous work areas scattered throughout the city. 



GAU's six main areas of activity are:

1) Artistic intervention 

An area dedicated to encouraging the creation and realization of Urban Art projects, of it's own initiative (GAU) or organized by external entities, which integrates diversified actions:

- Creation and curation of Urban Art projects;

- Contest organization; 

- Definition of places/intervention sites; 

- Obtaining/issuing authorizations;

- Production of artistic projects or supervision of their execution;

- Logistical support (delimitation of the intervention area).


2) Divulgation/Awareness

It covers all policies, strategies and communication campaigns related to the phenomenon of Urban Art, in their different aspects and the dialog with diversified partners (general public, journalists, students, companies, municipalities, among others). Includes: 

- Promotion of events and works carried out, at GAU social resources (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, website, magazine);

- Definition of Urban Art routes, to see the artworks; 

- Providing sources of information and concession of images;

- Sharing of knowledge with other municipalities or national entities;

- Interviews. 

In this area, it is also important to note the partnership between Galeria de Arte Urbana and Google Art Project, a platform that integrates some of the most recognized museums and galleries worldwide and which recently created a section dedicated to urban art, involving 30 institutions from 15 countries.

It is also worth noting the extensive national and international media coverage that the production of urban art in Lisbon has received.



It involves guided tours, workshops, and other activities aimed for different publics, namely schools and social associations and neighborhoods, seniors, promoting knowledge of the history of graffiti and street art, their techniques and speeches.



Some project examples:

"Reciclar o Olhar" - a project developed in partnership with the Municipal Direction of Urban Environment, which involves artistic interventions not only in waste collection trucks but mainly in recycling glass containers, having intervened around 150 units so far. It's a project open to all the interested public and not only to the artists, promoted by open calls for proposals, having been carried out so far 8 open calls. It is a cross-cutting project in terms of the city's urban structure, age groups (from children to senior citizens), different techniques and artistic speeches, sometimes propitiating an opportunity to start working in street art.

"Lata 65" - project by Lara Seixo Rodrigues, approved in Oramento Participativo (Participatory Budget), in the sense of holding workshops with a senior public, promoted through the City's Council and involving an introduction to the world of urban art and learning some techniques;



It aims at preserving the memory of urban art through the systematized photographic (and videographic) recording of works carried out in Lisbon since April 25, 1974, its integration into a database and its dissemination as an essential tool for the understanding and research of this phenomenon.



It comprises all actions related to the sharing of GAU's experience in the debate on urban art and its participation in different discussion forums (conferences, debates, classes, etc.), as well as support for study and research, and the publication of works dedicated to this matter.


It relates to the integration of GAU into a number of organizations involved in the promotion of urban art and networks of urban creativity at an international level and the exchange of artists, such as the International Network for Urban Creativity created in Naples in 2011, where GAU is a founding member along with other countries such as Germany, Italy, Holland, United Kingdom, Russia, France and Turkey, among others.

In this context, it should be noted that, since its emergence, GAU has been invited to present its project and to participate in conferences held in several cities around the world, with the number of requests increasing significantly in recent years.  As an example, GAU was present at events in the cities of The Hague and Eindhoven (Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Naples and Padua (Italy), Paris and Toulouse (France), Fortaleza (Brazil), Lodz, Seville and Madrid (Spain), Cologne (Germany), Tallinn (Estonia), among others.




In pursuit of its mission, GAU is guided by the following set of principles and values:



In Portugal, the activity related to the artistic production of graffiti and street art is governed by the stipulated in Law no. 61/2013 of August 23 (Annex 1).

It establishes the regime applicable to graffiti, posting, paving and other forms of alteration, even if temporary, of the original characteristics of exterior surfaces of buildings, pavements, sidewalks, walls and other infrastructures.



This principle stems from the ephemeral character of most manifestations of urban art and the need for its acceptance as an inherent factor in the artistic process and the projects developed by GAU.

The interventions of street art have a limited life span, whose duration depends very much on the technique and materials used, as well as the type of support. It is only a matter of time until atmospheric agents, cleaning actions or other dimensions of urban dynamics take care of wearing down, or even "erasing" the works. This is a phenomenon that must be viewed with normality, and which contributes to the rotation of the works "exposed" in the city and to the renewal of the urban landscape.



In pursuit of its mission, GAU seeks to maintain a position of independence and detachment from commercial, political or religious interests or otherwise, which are likely to disregard the freedom of thought or may offend the views of others.

In this context, it is important not to confuse artistic intentions and projects with those of an advertising nature. It makes sense that the urban art interventions supported by companies may include the identification of the sponsor, provided that the size of the logo or allusion to the brand does not assume an exaggerated and disproportionate role in relation to the scale of the work.



This principle aims to ensure:

- The preservation of the identity and the meaning of the sites and the aesthetic / visual qualification of the public space, by urban art interventions of recognized artistic merit, conceived and designed according to the urban characteristics of each place and the works adequacy to the supports intrinsic nature, their form and function;

- Reinforcement of the heritage awareness, alerting to the problem of restoration and urban rehabilitation;

- The requalification of degraded areas, redirecting writer's creative impulse in a constructive sense.



It aims to promote the balanced distribution of urban artworks in the municipal territory, both in the city's central areas and periphery.



To encourage the participation of the general public and the artistic community, in particular, as well as public and private organizations in the programming, execution, and dissemination of urban art interventions in the city, and to encourage the enjoyment of community interventions, is another guiding principle for GAU;



Another principle adopted by the GAU is to guarantee artists of the various generations equal conditions in access to projects and urban artworks of municipal initiative, regardless of the artistic trends, techniques and the type of creative discourse used, using as usual and whenever possible, to the public tender, as a method of selecting proposals and artists.


In the production/execution of municipal urban art projects, there is a fundamental concern to provide a fair and balanced remuneration and compensation to the artists involved, within the economic reality of each moment, defined through standardized parameters, intended to quantify the volume, scale, complexity, and uniqueness of the works.




- Ignasi de Lecea Prize, awarded by the Public Art & Urban Design Observatory (PAUDO) of the University of Barcelona, in the context of VI Waterfronts of Art International Conference, 2009;

- Honorable mention awarded at the National Culture Gala, "Portugal Applauds 2011" organized by the television station RTP 1;

- Bronze Lion in the Public Relations category of the Cannes Creativity Festival in 2012, and 7 awards (gold, silver and bronze in various categories) awarded by the National Creative Club that same year, by the awareness and communication campaigns promoted by GAU in partnership with the advertising and communication agency TORKE;

- The UCLG - United Cities and Local Governments international organization recognized in July 2014 the work of the Urban Art Gallery as an example of good practice in the context of its candidacy for the "International Award CGLU - Mexico City - Culture 21" the fact that the research and the study dedicated to this phenomenon is currently in rapid expansion.















Galeria de Arte Urbana

Departamento de Património Cultural

Direção Municipal de Cultura

Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

Rua do Machadinho, 20

1249 - 150 Lisboa

Telef. 218170900

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