Batalha’s Municipal Community Museum

Cíntia Silva

Batalha’s Municipal Community Museum

Largo Goa, Damao e Diu, n.° 4 2440-901 Batalha

Damatilde;o e Diu - Batalha, Portugal

European Museum Forum / Kenneth Hudson Award 2013

A Museum For All

Located in Batalha town, near  Batalha's Monastery, a UNESCO monument, the MCCB is seen as an innovative cultural centre, which promotes culture, knowledge and heritage, in one of the main tourist destinations of Portugal.   It reveals a journey of over 250 million years. It holds a collection that covers various topics that characterises the peoples and the places of Batalha. This project contextualises local and national history with European facts, including the construction of the Monastery, a Gothic monument that welcomed many European artists. It completes its exhibits with interactive multimedia resources and accessible solutions designed to make people with disabilities welcomed and allow each visitor to experience the museum  using the special facilities available to all.

The interest of the Municipality and the community of this council for its heritage and safeguarding its values and cultural territory with strong historical roots, laid the foundation of a museum project that brought together experts in several areas.
In 2003,  a working group was constituted comprising representatives of the Municipality, experts in finance, engineering, architecture, museology, exhibition design, paleontology, geology, archeology, local history, communication and administration, among others.
We intend to develop a museum organized on the lines of sociomuseology and that of community museums in which local people can review their identity and history. The team began the research work, collecting objects, researching and collaborating with the community. The project was presented in  local parishes tp exchange  ideas and recognise  local reality.
The musem, situated in the historic centre of Batalha, is housed in the former headquarters of a bank  - the "Caixa de Creacute;dito Agriacute;cola", which donated this building for the construction of a museum to show  the importance of  local history.
The total  project cost was  1.2 million euros and was supported by European funds.
The MCCB was officially inaugurated on the 2nd April 2011 and since then it has already attracted about 20.000 visitors.


The museum is organized as a long-term exhibition with a temporary exhibition room.
It reveals a journey that begins with the origin of the universe. It shows geological and paleontological fossil remains; the first traces of human life; a roman city named Collippo; the Battle of Aljubarrota and the progressive construction of the Monastery of Batalha, the social and cultural features of the Region''s people; nature and biodiversity. The exhibition is completed with an illustrated chronological timeline and interactive multimedia resources. Visitors are also invited to make contact with the cultural and tourism region in a space that invites the exploration of thematic routes in an interactive model which displays promotional videos that show  gastronomy, handicrafts and festivities.
The first temporary exhibition is entitled "Education in Batalha" and features a collaboration between museum technicians, students and teachers.

The MCCB views itself as a  Museum for All offering a museological programme that enhances unique experiences that are highly personalized, respecting individual differences.
The same resources and services can be enjoyed by people with and without disabilities. Some of our solutions are:
  • Screen readers.
  • Multimedia area with accessibility solutions
  • Printed braille and tactile images
  • Raised pictures and Braille lettering
  • Tactile experiences - maps, maquettes, original objects and replicas to be touched
  • Videos with multilingual subtitles
  • Audioguide with audiodescription
  • Videoguide with sign language interpretation
  • Spacious exhibition rooms with good lighting and easy mobility
  • Lift
  • Tactile path
  • Accessible toilet facilities
  • Space for guide dogs
  • Accessible web page
This is a constantly developing area. The involvement of people with special needs from the beginning of the project was a key concern in structuring our visitor programme and museological programme. Based on the suggestions made by technicians, people with special needs and the general public, our team tries to constantly improve the museum offer, according to the available budget, priorities and our mission.


In 2013, on May 18th,the International Day of Museums, the MCCB was given, in the Belgian town of Tongeren, the prestigious Kenneth Hudson Award of the European Museum Forum (EMF). An award in honour of the founder of the European Museum of the Year Award which distinguishes "museums, people, projects or group of people who have demonstrated the most unusual, daring and, perhaps, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of the museum in society and carries forward the spirit of Kenneth Hudson". For the members of the international jury, the prize awarded to the MCCB was justified "for its extraordinary ability to provide, in a simple and edgy way, a diversity of experiences to the museum visitors, a process that included the participation of the local community, researchers and experts".
In December of 2012, the Portuguese Association of Museums (APOM) chose the MCCB as Portugal's Best Museum.
We've also been recognized with regional awards such as the prize Territorial Development, received at the 14th Gala of the weekly paper "Regiatilde;o de Leiria" and the Regional Merit award at the 4th Gala of Inclusion of Leiria, which recognised  the accessibility policy of the Municipality of Batalha.

Challenges make part of the daily work of the small team of the museum.
Facing an economical crisis and working with very low budgets are the main challenges for cultural institutions. Every day we must be creative in order to keep public interest and maintain the quality of the project,always  keeping to the mission of the museum.
Considering this, we emphasise the various partnerships with public and private institutions which ensure an improvement in the supply of visitors and in promoting the museum in order to respond to the interests of an increasingly demanding public.
The collaboration with the community is constantly developing in order to create research programmes leading to the setting up of temporary exhibitions.
Collaboration with hotel chains in the region is another of the measures devised  to attract  visitors from all over the world. In order to promote a joint dynamic cultural, social and economic sustainability, we have developed synergies with business and commercial partners of the town and the region promoting the development of quality initiatives.
The MCCB also has a partnership programme with other regional cultural institutions. The local Cultural Passport, which includes 6 partners (MCCB, Batalha's Monastery; the Interpretation Centre of the Battle of Aljubarrota, the Ethnographic Museum of Alta Estremadura, "Grutas da Moeda" - Caves and Pia do Urso -Sensory EcoPark) is a successful strategic example of this programme,  attracting many people to this region.
Another measure taken by the team towards increasing the profile of the Museum is the involvement in thematic conferences, related to  accessibility, museology and tourism.
We are also intend on keeping a cultural programme that can promote investigation, heritage, education, and local development which is all inclusive for the public benefit.
We intend to continue the collaboration with the local community, in educating our youth in the preservation and promotion of our heritage and our history and contributing to changing mindsets about the concept that a museum only exists within the four walls that surround it.


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