My Visit to Neonia — Portugal’s First Anti-Museum

I invite you to join me on an immersive multi-sensory experience from the streets of Porto to “Neon City” and beyond

Rui Alves
Counter Arts

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Neon sign with capital letters: “NEONIA PORTO.”
Neonia, Porto | Photo by the author

What if walking into a museum felt like entering the Twilight Zone?

In the heart of Porto, halfway across a cobbled sidewalk street, emerges a “neon city” within the city — a hybrid between a futuristic art gallery and a vintage funhouse that turns the traditional museum experience on its head.

As a teacher and snoezelen adept, I believe multisensory experiences are the future of more diverse and inclusive education. So, what if I told you visiting Neonia takes learning about a city’s culture to a new level of fun, almost as if you were visiting Narnia after eating one of the Caterpillar’s fly agaric mushrooms in Alice’s Wonderland?

If you peer into the back of your mind, the subliminal effluvia of neon might remind you of vintage bar signs or retro diner decor, like the ones you see in movies such as Back to the Future.

I was only four when Steven Lisberger released Tron (1982), so I don’t recall watching the film for the first time. Still, its seminal cyberpunk aesthetic remains deeply engraved in my visual cortex and on the part of the human brain neuroaesthetics…

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Rui Alves
Counter Arts

Language teacher, linguist, life coach, published author (joined the Army and worked for the EU). A publisher, digital ronin, musician and alchemist of sound.