Museu do Papel

Marques da Silva

Director

Museu do Papel

terras de Santa Maria Rua de Riomaior, 338 4535-301 Paços de Brandao

www.museudopapel.org

Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal
Best Portuguese Museum of the Year 2011


Paper Museum: the simultaneity of a museum and an industrial space





Opened in 2001, the Paper Museum Terras de Santa Maria is an Industrial Museum, having as great feature the maintenance of a manufacturing production in activity, making paper by hand from cotton and linen clothes and an industrial production, making recycled paper from old paper. Simultaneously with this pre-industrial and manufacturing activity, all museologic functions are carried out, maintaining a cultural and educational practice always guided by the art of making paper.

Property of the Municipality of Santa Maria da Feira, its creation was a response to the paper community, conscious of the need to preserve a " paper culture " with over three hundred years of history in this region, thus justifying its Mission: preserve memories of the day-to-day paper activities, having as main objectives the study of the History of Paper in Portugal and the preservation and dissemination of tangible and intangible Heritage of this Industry.

By their dimension and characteristics, this project was a huge financial effort for the local authority, only possible thanks to the reimbursement of various EU funds, especially the Culture Operational Programme, which covered not only the recovery and adaptation to a new museologic functionality of spaces, but also the development and achievement of educational and intangible Heritage projects.

Installed in two old paper factories from the early nineteenth century, one still containing, ''in situ'', all the machines of the production process, the conceptual row of the museological programme required that the project should be materialized in the creation of all structures needs to a museologic best practice, without, however, mischaracterize the old workspaces, providing an interpretive reading of the evolution process of paper manufacture, preserving the historical burden and the day-to-day existences of the workers who worked there.

To emphasize the relevance of this project in the preservation of the environment, in its contribution to the interiorization of recycling values  in general and in a specific way of recycling and reuse of paper that are present in all activities of the Educational Services, materialized in the exchange of old paper brought by school children, which, in turn, take new paper produced in the museum.

However, and because paper recycling is not eternal, is also a concern of the museum call the attention of the new attitude of the Portuguese Pulp and Paper Industries, in the building a sustainable society through a rigorous policy of reforestation and concern for issues related with biodiversity.

In this sense, the Paper Museum aims to provide to its visitors the knowledge of the dynamism and modernity of the Paper industry in Portugal, because only then the History of Paper gets a real sense, by emphasizing the present and plan the future.

After ten years of its opening, the first museum dedicated to the History of Paper in Portugal, has been affirmed as a reference in the Portuguese Industrial Museology level, having been distinguished by the Portuguese Association of Museology, as "Best Portuguese Museum 2011", not only by the implementation of creative and innovative projects, but also for its strong identity and coherence at museology level, in search of a qualitative difference and a very close connection to the paper community.

Although the Human Resources team of the Paper Museum is very small, it is composed of elements with diverse academic backgrounds that complement each other, ensuring the various aspects of the museum daily life, and developing a work marked by effort and great devotion to the project.

There are no easy challenges, when we want to build quality and accuracy projects. I''d say that the biggest difficulty of this project was the design and implementation of accessibilities for visitors with reduced mobility, within a centenary space, without mischaracterize it and without compromising the production areas.

We tried that the final result would provide not only a natural empathy with visitors facilitating an interpretive reading of the exposed contents, but also a state of surprise with innovative proposals capable of attracting and retaining new and different publics, not forgetting the public with special needs, such as blind and deaf, in order to foster a formative and inclusive culture.

For all these reasons, we don't see the Paper Museum as a space of the past. It's true that it's a space for the preservation of memories. But the most important is that it also constitutes a space for the creation of new memories.