Museu Metalúrgica Duarte Ferreira (Tramagal)

Lígia Marques

Museologist, Abrantes Municipallity

Luís Filipe Correia Dias

City councillor, Abrantes municipality

Museu Metalúrgica Duarte Ferreira

R. Comendador R. Eduardo Duarte Ferreira nº. 116 2205-697 Tramagal Portugal

Abrantes, Portugal 

Associação Portuguesa de Museologia / Museum of the Year 2018


A New Museological Paradigm in Abrantes



Where previously there was industrial activity and now only memories and archaeological heritage, the use of testimonies is reinvented. The reinvention of traditions was a consequence of changes in the balance between the rural and the industrial during the industrial revolution, and today this balance is shifting again in this era of post-industrialization.

The Duarte Ferreira Metallurgical (MDF) and Tramagal are examples of this. The once great industry that  brought innovation and development to the region and the country has left us a legacy that deserves to be preserved and whose heritage is likely to be reinvented.

It is from this premise and with this goal the Duarte Ferreira Metallurgical Museum emerges.

“Duarte Ferreira Metallurgical Museum, a new museological paradigm in Abrantes”

This is a project long dreamed of by the people of Tramagal, especially those who, in a more or less direct  way, had their lives connected to MDF.

In compliance with this desire and aware of the importance of preserving this legacy, in 2011 the municipality of Abrantes in partnership with the parish council of Tramagal and the Diorama group (holder of the building of MDF’s former main office and where the museum is installed), signed a protocol with the aim of creating a museum.

The Duarte Ferreira Metallurgical Museum was  inaugurated on May 1st, 2017, and is a project that involved the community - through the donation of booty, the sharing of stories, the identification of pieces, and in other various forms. The whole museological process took a few years, a lot of research, inventory and study of the collection, the history of the factory and its people.



All this makes it a territorial museum, with national pretensions and based on a form of new museology that aims to preserve the memory and heritage – material and immaterial – that was bequeathed by Duarte Ferreira Metallurgical.

It is a museum at the service of the community; of the people, with the people and for the people.
It intends to be an instrument of local development with the ambition to fill the emptiness of identity left by the extinction of this company in order to, through the didactics of heritage, stimulate the feeling of belonging.

This is certainly not a museum where one hopes to see many pieces crammed and unframed, in the eagerness to show everything.

Instead, it is a museum of memory, of stories, of sensory stimuli.

In it the visitor is invited to travel in time and to feel every moment of this journey through the visual scenery or the constant sound of a foundry still alive and “working out" iron, through testimonies in the first person or images that are supported by a physical collection and framed in a simple, concrete and effective discourse well illustrating the importance of the legacy.

It is a museum that tells the inspiring story of its founder, a humble blacksmith who became a Commander of the Civil Order of Agriculture and Industrial Merit, and who even in his old age, was said to always walk fast because “his road was too long”. Through this museum we are aware of his struggles and achievements with the technological innovation he has brought to agriculture and its development.

In the MDF museum we tell the stories of opportunities and conquests, such as the acquisition of the Enamel Crockery Factory in Oporto or the Auto Division that built the product that left the largest hallmark in our national history – the mythical military truck Berliet-Tramagal. It tells the story of its centennial brand, one we recognize and discover throughout the country and even beyond our country’s borders - the Butterfly. Through it we learn the story of more than 2600 workers and their families who had access to the country's first welfare system, health, education, culture, sport and housing, and who were free to celebrate the 1st of May since 1901, even during the dictatorial regime.





However, we are also aware of the difficulties that their people faced with the end of the Colonial War, the 25th of April Revolution and the intervention of the factory, the wages in arrears and the sadness and uncertainty which characterized the situation of the metalworkers of Tramagal.

It is, however, a museum that ends with the hope of what has remained, of the companies that still work and that in some way have descended from MDF: companies that are currently leaders in their areas and that continue to remember the name of Tramagal, Abrantes and Portugal.

The MDF Museum is therefore envisioned as a metamorphosis of the butterfly, which is neither complete nor concluded. We stand at the assumed  first phase of a project of greater ambition and potential that will be built at a pace defined by a strong notion of responsibility and sustainability.
Throughout the process of construction and execution of the MDF Museum there was special care and attention paid to details, respecting as much as possible the principles of quality also inherited in essence from the Duarte Ferreira Metallurgical legacy. Because the Museum has been installed in the building of the former headquarters of the company, there was a particular care to maintain as much as possible the traits of its physical and unsurpassed memory. For this, for example, in the context of museography the same metal used in the metallurgical process was used as raw material. Thinking about the functionality and practicality of maintenance and exhibition rotation, the showcases are automatic, allowing easy access to its interior, with all the security.

The same principle of care and rigor was established both in the construction of the museographic narrative, as in the preservation and restoration of the pieces in the exhibition and in reserve. Conservation and restoration interventions were confined to the ethical concept of minimal intervention, limiting them to those indispensable for maintaining the integrity, durability and stability of the original materials.

In the immediate future, the museum intends to affirm itself through its educational services and its programming - it aims to be attractive, creating useful experiences and being of reference - and to establish partnerships of mutual added value between companies and local organizations, with the community and with academic entities in search of knowledge, cultural enrichment, the preservation of heritage and a contribution to local development.



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