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

From 10th October 2021 until 5th January 2022 at Torre do Tombo in Lisbon.

the portuguese prison photo project provides an insight into the contemporary prisons of Portugal. From the largest and oldest dating back to 1880 to the newest ones opened in 2004, these eight Estabelecimentos Prisionais represent over a quarter of all detention places of the country.
The photographs have been shot in 2016/2017 and in early 2020 by a Portuguese and a Swiss photographer, Luis Barbosa and Peter Schulthess. Their photographic approaches offer two completely different views.

It is the first extensive photo production about prisons in Portugal, which has been shown a first time in 2017 in the Centro Português de Fotografia (CPF) in Porto.

After the success of the first exhibition in Porto held in 2017, at the Centro Português de Fotografia CPF, and the awarding by the S.A.P. to Luis Barbosa of the prize for best photographic work 2017, and after its display in Lisbon in 2019, at the Museu do Aljube, a third exhibition is now taking place, again in Lisbon, with a concept adapted to the new place, the Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo.


The photographers

Luis Barbosa

Photographer and teacher at the Instituto Português de Fotografia IPF Porto | born in 1975 in Porto, Portugal | recipient of the award of the S.A.P. for best work of photography 2017 |

Specializes in social and cultural photo documentation. His interest in photography started in the darkroom, a black and white technique which he still favours although he works also with digital cameras. He has shown his photographs in various exhibitions and gives insights of his approach of photography on his website and blog. He trained at the IPF Porto, where he now teaches photography. Asked to participate in this project, he was very enthusiastic. In his black and white pictures of the prisons visited, he wanted to put the emphasis on atmosphere and ambiance.

„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 in 2016/2017, he was accom­panied by Gilda Santos of the University of Porto and in 2020 by Catarina Frois, ISCTE Lisbon.
*He is a member of the Swiss Professional Photographers and Film Creators 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

19 October 2021 – 5 January 2022

From 19 October 2021 to 5 January 2022, both photographers present their vision and points of view of 8 prisons, with 28 large format prints. Furthermore, each of these prisons is presented separately in large portfolio albums. These offer a more in-depth view of the architecture, the daily life and living conditions of the detainees, and the environment of the staff. A short text presentation of each prison helps in better deciphering the pictures. No guided tour is planned.

Torre do Tombo, Lisbon

National Archives of Portugal I Monumental new building from 1991 I based on the campus of the University of Lisbon in the Campo Grande city district

The new building of the National Archives holds state-related documents, historic files and more recent publications of all sorts, and accommodates its administrative offices, a reading room and spaces for exhibitions.

Torre do Tombo. Photo: Peter Schulthess
Torre do Tombo. Photo: Peter Schulthess


1649-010 Lisboa

Opening hours

Mon. to Fri. 9h30 a.m. – 7h30 p.m.
Sat. 9h30 – 12h30

Closed on Sunday

Entry fee

Entry fees: free

Flyer (PDF) for downloading, printing and sharing