The museum covers the period between 1850 and 1950, with works by the foremost Portuguese artists of the period, as well as some foreigners. It holds the best collection of Portuguese painting and sculpture from the Romanticism, Naturalism and Modern periods.
Among the artists represented are António Silva Porto, António Carneiro, António Soares dos Reis, Miguel Ângelo Lupi, Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, Abel Manta, Dórdio Gomes, Adriano Sousa Lopes, José de Almada Negreiros, Nadir Afonso, Mário Eloy, Francisco Augusto Metrass, Auguste Rodin, and many others. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.
Since 1911, the Chiado Museum has occupied part of the old Convent of São Francisco (Saint Francis) in Lisbon, a building of mediaeval origin. The 1994 adaptation and renovation of the museum areas were done by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte.