the portuguese prison photo project – an exhibition about photographical insights into Portuguese prisons

NEW: from 11 May until 29 September 2019 at the Museu do Aljube – Resistência e Liberdade, Lisbon.

the portuguese prison photo project provides an insight into seven contemporary prisons of Portugal. From the largest and oldest dating back to 1880 to the newest ones opened in 2004, these Estabelecimentos prisionais represent around a quarter of all detention places.


The photographs have been shot by a Portuguese and a Swiss photographer in 2016/2017. Their photographic approaches offer two completely different views. The exhibition also comprises a historical part, with photographs from state archives. It is the first extensive photo production about prisons in Portugal.

The exhibition takes place in the Museu do Aljube – Resistência e Liberdade, situated in the center of Lisbon. From 1928 until 1965, it housed the prison of the political police P.I.D.E. of the Estado Novo regime. The Museum opened on the 25th of April 2015.


After the noted success of the first exhibition in the Centro Português de Fotografia (CPF) in Porto in 2017, after Luis Barbosa received the award of the S.A.P. for best work of photography 2017, a new selection of photographs has been made which are shown on multimedia from 11 May until 29 September 2019 in Lisbon.

In the framework of the exhibition an international conference on the subject of “Prisons in Portugal and Europe: Regimes of Detention and Monitoring of Regimes”, is to be held on 23 and 24 May 2019 in the Museum premises and at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon (see tab THE CONFERENCE).

The initiator and co-organiser Daniel Fink as well as the photographers thank Professor Luís Farinha, Director of the Museo do Aljube, Dr Celso Manata, Director-General of the Direção-Geral de Reinserção e Serviços Prisionais (DGRSP), as well as staff members met, and finally Dr Bernardino Castro of the CPF for their contribution to the success of the project.



The photographers

Luis Barbosa

Photographer and trainer at the Instituto Português de Fotografia IPF Porto | born in 1975 in Porto, Portugal

Specializes in social and cultural photo documentation. His interest in photography led him very early into the darkroom where he experimented with a black and white technique which he still favours. He has shown his photographs in various exhibitions and in his blog. He trained at the IPF Porto, where he today teaches photographers. Asked to participate in this project, he was very enthusiastic.
In his black and white pictures of the prisons visited, he presents the point of view of detainees first and their feelings.

„As I never entered a prison before, I was pleased to be soon allowed to discover a new, hidden world, but also aware that participating would bring some emotional charge.“

Luis Barbosa, photographer

Peter M. Schulthess

Photographer SBF, specialized in architectural photography, particularly of prisons | born in 1966 in Basel, Switzerland

His first photographic experience with a prison was in the old penitentiary of Basel, 15 years ago. It led to his lasting interest in prison and correctional photography. Documenting detention places and prison life became a long-term project as a photographer and author. Next to the prisons of Switzerland, he visited facilities in Germany and now in Portugal. 
During his visits of Portuguese prisons, he was accompanied by Gilda Santos of the University of Porto.
He is a member of the Swiss Professional Photographers and Photo Designers SBF.


“This project is a step into an unknown world, in a country I had never visited before. What would I see and what would I be allowed to photograph? Which pictures would I be allowed to show?”

Peter M. Schulthess, photographer

The exhibition

11 May – 29 September 2019

From the 19th century until 1928 a prison for women I From 1928 until 1965 a prison of the PIDE, the political police of the Estado Novo regime I Since 2015 Museum of resistance and liberty.

The museum is dedicated to the resistance to the dictatorship and the struggle for freedom and democracy. Its permanent exhibition documents practices of torture and inhuman living conditions in detention. It honors the freedom fighters and remembers the victims of persecution and detention, torture, exile, deportation and, often, death.

Aljube de Lisboa, um 1900

Photography: The prison Aljube in Lisbon, around 1900


Museu do Aljube Resistência e Liberdade

Opening hours

Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Closed on Monday

Entry fee

Entry fees: see price list on the website of the museum

Flyer (PDF) for downloading, printing and sharing