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Livraria Lello celebrates 118 years by announcing the creation of a Foundation and new offices in a historic building

On January 13th, Livraria Lello celebrates its 118th anniversary with a reminder of the alarming numbers of reading and access to culture in Portugal. Under the motto “It’s time!”, the last verse of Fernando Pessoa’s “Message”, the objective is to bring together other institutions to act together in an attempt to change the numbers. On the same day, he will present the Livraria Lello Foundation, inaugurate a new exhibition and new windows dedicated to Pessoa's universe and celebrate to the sound of Carminho.

Around 60% of Portuguese people did not read a single book in 2022; 65.7% of Portuguese people show a lack of interest in reading; 63.8% of Portuguese people did not visit any cultural site in 2022; Portugal was the 4th country in the European Union that invested least in cultural services. The numbers, collected by INE and Eurostat, are worrying and reveal a country that reads very little, and dedicates very little time in its life to culture.

In celebration of its 118th anniversary, on January 13th, Livraria Lello, assuming its mission as a fundamental cultural institution in Porto, will start with these numbers, and under the motto “It’s the Time!” – last verse of A Mensagem, by Fernando Pessoa, will announce his program for 2024, part of it centered on this greater purpose of contributing to changing these statistics.

In parallel with the announcement of this program, on January 13th the Livraria Lello Foundation will be presented, with the participation of representatives from other foundations, such as the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Foundation, the Charles Dickens Foundation, the Jane Austen Foundation and the José Saramago Foundation , who will share what they believe to be the contribution of foundations to increasing reading, literacy and access to culture, and the new offices of Livraria Lello and other Lionesa Group projects will also be presented, which will be located in a historic building on Rua of the Paris Galleries, and whose architectural project will be signed by Nuno Valentim, author, for example, of the requalification of Bolhão. With this new building and project, the current Livraria Lello offices will be vacant so that work can begin on the new Livraria Lello cultural space, a project signed by Pritzker Álvaro Siza.

The event will also feature the participation of fado singer Carminho, who will perform two songs linked to the life and work of Fernando Pessoa, and the inauguration of an exhibition related to the Pessoan universe, which will feature book editions and pamphlets published during his lifetime by the author, books published posthumously and books from Fernando Pessoa's personal library. An exhibition developed in partnership with Casa Fernando Pessoa.

Livraria Lello's anniversary will be celebrated in a private ceremony, which will be attended by government officials and representatives of various national and international institutions. It will start at 10:30 am, and is expected to end at 12:00 pm, with the singing of congratulations to Livraria Lello.

The doors open to the public at 12:30 pm, and on that day entry is free, with books being offered to the first 118 readers, so Livraria Lello invites everyone to come and celebrate and bring their families.