From the beginning of the XX century there had been several attempts to create a National Theatre and Dance Museum, with the aim to preserve the ephemeral memory of the Perfoming Arts. Nevertheless, it was only in 1979 when a large theatrical exhibition dedicated to the famous theatre company "Companhia Rosas & Brasão (1880-1898)" opened that it was possible for that dream to come true. From that time onwards the future Museum’s collections started to be compiled, nearly all resulting from donations. The Museum was officially created in 1982.

On the 4th of February 1985, the Museum was inaugurated, housed in an XVIII century building, the old Monteiro-Mor Palace duly restored and adapted for that purpose.

The collections of the Museum which started from zero in 1979 and have at present circa 300.000 species, covering the total range of the perfoming arts, include theatre costumes and stage props, stage models, stage designs, drawings, caricatures, paintings, sculptures, programmes, posters, newspaper cuttings, manuscripts, records, music scores, and an assortment of approximately 120.000 photographs.

The Museum has always presented temporary exhibitions dedicated to theatre companies, personalities from the world of show business, and also less well-known aspects of the work that takes place in the theatre in all its diversity. At the moment an exhibition on the History and Evolution of the Theatre and the Perfoming Arts in Portugal is being organised.

In a gallery annex, the Museum continues to present temporary exhibitions aiming to present either the main items in its collections, or other national or international collections.

In the Museum’s main building there is the Library. Exclusively dedicated to the perfoming arts, it has approximately 35 000 volumes and is considered the largest and most complete in that field in Portugal.
In the same building, the Museum has an Auditorium with a capacity for 80 places, equipped with a video and slide projector, as well as sound and lighting equipment.

The Educational Service organises guided visits, specially geared to school groups, by previous appointment.

In the Museum shop the public can acquire publications and various objects related both to the National Theatre Museum as well as to other Museums, including some foreign ones.

The Museum also has a Cafeteria/ Restaurant, with an esplanade that provides an appreciated and essential service.