The Museological Network of the Municipality of Peniche, a coastal town 100km north of Lisbon, is a strategic project promoted by the City Council that aims at the qualification, study, preservation, dissemination and enhancement of the Municipal Heritage. It is currently composed of several diversified, but complementary, museological centers:
The Peniche’s Bobbin Lace (“Renda de Bilros”) Museum, inaugurated on the 23rd of July 2016, is dedicated to the greatest symbol of handicrafts in the region, the Bobbin Lace, an important cultural heritage of Peniche, in its tangible and intangible aspects.
The CIAB – Interpretive Center of Atouguia da Baleia is a museum space inaugurated on March 17th 2012, dedicated to the Historical and Cultural Heritage, in a close relationship with the local community, providing a broad view of the Historic Region of Atouguia da Baleia.
The Serra d’ El-Rei D. Pedro I Museum opened its doors on February 14th 2018. It is recognized as a museum of identity and community that has as a special focus the issues of History and Identity of this medieval town. It is managed by the Serra d’ El-Rei local council.
The Interpretive Center and Visitors Support was inaugurated on July 31st 2015 on Berlenga Island. This Center aims to improve visitation conditions and the dissemination of natural and cultural values present in the Berlengas Archipelago, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Lastly, the National Museum of Resistance and Freedom, administered by the Culture Ministry of the Portuguese Government, is located in the Peniche Fortress, which is recognized as a memory space and a major symbol of the struggle for freedom. Its mission is to preserve the historical memory of the Peniche Fortress, the Resistance to Dictatorship, and the struggle of the Portuguese People, in particular, for Freedom and Democracy. The activities of this museum are not detailed below, as the Museological Network is mostly involved to the municipal museums, specially the Bobbin Lace Museum and CIAB.
Archeology, Anthropology, Museology, Conservation, Cultural Management, and Tourism.
The Educational Service of the Museological Network aims to provide the public with new experiences, encourage reflection on heritage themes, promote preservationist attitudes, motivate different audiences for the different thematic areas that are the object of the museological programs of the Municipal Museums and disseminate and value the local cultural heritage.
There are several recreational and pedagogical initiatives aimed at different audiences, free of charge and accompanied by technicians of the City Council: general and thematic visits, workshops, games and theater, activities in school contexts, etc. Alongside the regular activities, pedagogical-didactic workshops are structured, based on the concepts and themes associated with short-term exhibitions or commemorative dates, aiming at developing creativity and varied knowledge.
As for the staff, the trainings offered by the City Council are quite generic (safety, communication, accessibility, tourism, etc.), targeting a larger audience and not specifically the museums/cultural sector. There are possibilities for participating in more specific trainings, as long as they do not require a lot of time and financial resources. However, very specific courses end up covering only a part of the staff. According to Raquel Janeirinho, the museums’ technician, it would be preferable to have face-to-face training actions and exchanges with external experts that could benefit the different members of the museums.
|ECOMUSEUM MEMBERS (TECHNICAL TEAM)||LOCAL COMMUNITY|
|Peniche’s Bobbin Lace Municipal School||Teaching and improvement of techniques and processes for the execution of the Peniche’s Bobbin Lace to safeguard this local cultural heritage.||X|
|Educational Service of the Museum Network||Providing the public with new experiences, encouraging reflection on heritage themes, promoting preservationist attitudes, publicizing and enhancing the municipality's cultural heritage.||X|
|Safety, communication, accessibility, and tourism trainings||General trainings offered by the City Council for all its staff, not specific for the museums.||X|
|AREA / FIELD||DESCRIPTION||WAY OF TRAINING (VIRTUAL / ON-SITE / WORKSHOPS / ETC.)||TARGET|
|ECOMUSEUM MEMBERS (TECHNICAL TEAM)||LOCAL COMMUNITY|
|Sociomuseology||Strengthen the relation of the museums with the community||On-site||X||X|
|General courses||Exchanges with external experts that could benefit the different employees of the institution||On-site||X||X|
|Social Entrepreneurship||Stimulate the preservation and financial sustainability of the Bobbin lace production, empowering local artisans||On-site||X||X|
The Museological Network of the Municipality of Peniche, a coastal town 100km north of Lisbon, is a strategic project promoted by the City Council that aims at the qualification, study, preservation, dissemination and enhancement of the Municipal Heritage. It is currently composed of several diversified, but complementary, museological centers:The Peniche’s Bobbin Lace (“Renda de Bilros”) Museum, inaugurated on the 23rd of July 2016, is dedicated to the greatest symbol of handicrafts in the region, the Bobbin Lace, an important cultural heritage of Peniche, in its tangible and intangible aspects.The CIAB – Interpretive Center of Atouguia da Baleia is a museum space inaugurated on March 17th 2012, dedicated to the Historical and Cultural Heritage, in a close relationship with the local community, providing a broad view of the Historic Region of Atouguia da Baleia.The Serra d’ El-Rei D. Pedro I Museum opened its doors on February 14th 2018. It is recognized as a museum of identity and community that has as a special focus the issues of History and Identity of this medieval town. It is managed by the Serra d’ El-Rei local council.The Interpretive Center and Visitors Support was inaugurated on July 31st 2015 on Berlenga Island. This Center aims to improve visitation conditions and the dissemination of natural and cultural values present in the Berlengas Archipelago, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.Lastly, the National Museum of Resistance and Freedom, administered by the Culture Ministry of the Portuguese Government, is located in the Peniche Fortress, which is recognized as a memory space and a major symbol of the struggle for freedom. Its mission is to preserve the historical memory of the Peniche Fortress, the Resistance to Dictatorship, and the struggle of the Portuguese People, in particular, for Freedom and Democracy. The activities of this museum are not detailed below, as the Museological Network is mostly involved to the municipal museums, specially the Bobbin Lace Museum and CIAB.
The museums that integrate the Museological Network of the Municipality of Peniche are public-owned, depending exclusively from public funds. As the Museological Network is a project of the City Council, part of its Cultural Sector, the museums are interconnected with other Municipal departments and have their support and access to diverse services provided by them, such as communication, marketing, maintenance and construction (carpentry, electricity, etc.). So there is no need to depend on external providers and expend additional funds for most of their activities. This enlargement of resources is considered an added value for the museums, which would face more challenges if they were on their own. However, it is necessary to articulate with these other sectors as they have other responsibilities and are not at disposal of the museums all the time.
They also submit applications for external funding to implement some initiatives, such as heritage interpretation routes in loco. Janeirinho stresses that it is necessary to think the territory as a whole, not only as a museum. “We don’t forget that we belong to a municipal territory, and this territory has to be thought in its natural, landscape, environmental, geological, cultural and all sort of heritage. It has to be thought as a whole and promoted as a whole”. The project “LIFE Berlengas”, related to the Interpretive Center and Visitors Support of the Berlenga Island, is funded by the European Comission’s LIFE Programme, which is a funding instrument for the environment and climate action.
Some indirect funding is generated through the promotion, valorization and commercialization of bobbin lace artwork at the Bobbin Lace of Peniche Museum, contributing somehow to the financial sustainability of this activity and generating some income to local artisans. The presence of lacemakers working in the museum, before the pandemic, has allowed an interaction with the visitors and stimulated the commercialization of their work. Also, the City Council establishes partnerships with key-stakeholders in order to promote the bobbin lace brand to a larger public (by organizing international exhibitions and fashion shows, for example).
The community has been involved in participatory museological strategies such as the “Participatory Inventory of Cultural Heritage”. The participatory inventory of Atouguia da Baleia was implemented in 2010, which was the basis for the development of the CIAB. One of the characteristics of this territory, like others in the region, is the existence of multiple local associations (recreational, cultural, sports, etc.). The City Council, in articulation with the cultural and social action sector, worked together with the local authorities to present a project for a museum about this community. They met with community members, around coffee tables in the associations, in sessions with maps where people were asked to identify what their heritage was. So people mapped their heritages, like shoemakers, laundry places, fountains, mills, etc. They had identified agriculture as the most important economic activity, also pointing that the millers had great representation in their community.
Through these conversations with people, similarities, differences and particularities were perceived. Some of these locations were visited again, also with the local population, to carry out transect walks where it was possible to photograph them and talk more with people, getting their contacts. From there, a database was created to identify key interlocutors in different themes, who could be consulted for the elaboration of thematic exhibitions.
From the photographs shared by people, which were scanned and then returned to them, themes were identified (festivities, weddings, work, etc.) to share memories about the places through exhibitions. Thus, a closer relationship with the communities was created. This has allowed people to know more about their communities and feel that the museum is theirs too. This strategy was also applied during the creation of the Serra d’El-Rei Museum. These museum spaces foster community active participation in their exhibitions, many of which are developed by the population, where they can recreate their heritage legacy, allowing the re-appropriation and revitalization of this heritage.
The Peniche’s Bobbin Lace Museum, through its Bobbin Lace Municipal School, promotes diverse activities aimed at both youth and adults (such as the Summer Workshops, the “Bobbin Lace goes to School” initiative, and the “Bobbin Lace Drawing Course”) that involve the community and visitors alike. The School also accepts orders for the execution and the design of various Bobbin Lace works, generating income for local artisans.
The oldest lacemaker from Peniche, Natilde Martiniano, passed away in November 2021 at the age of 99. In an interview recorded in 2020, released on the occasion of the Lacemaker Day in 2021, she shared a declaration of love for Peniche’s Bobbin Lace: “That was my life making lace, always making lace! I really like doing it, I love it! I love it and luckily I don’t make many mistakes, my teacher is there, at this age I still like to do my work perfectly. I’m proud to know how to make laces, but I still want to do more, I want to do it well and I want to do it better”.
In addition to an open-door policy, specific initiatives in the communities have allowed public participation in the museums’ activities. The participatory inventory had allowed the establishment of bridges with the population and local associations, that always have to be reinforced. Initiatives such as open calls for participation (e.g. “Our Portraits”), concerts and social events help to strengthen this relation. There are people that come to the museums to donate inherited possessions from their relatives, such as articles related to the Bobbin Lace Museum. Around 50 community members are directly involved in the museums, such as lacemakers that go there to work and sell their products, local associations and artists that propose and organize activities and exhibitions.
Since May 2020, there is a Facebook page of Peniche’s Museological Network that is seen as an opportunity to reach a wider audience. Users have contributed with inputs, commenting on posts and interacting through direct messages. For example, they have helped to identify people and places portrayed on old photos posted on the page. This have helped the museums to better know their own collection.
The population is welcome to add ideas and implement new practices in the museums. Suggestions given by community members (in person, by email or on Facebook) are taken in to account when planning activities and the museums have been giving support and offering conditions, whenever possible, for receiving exhibitions/activities organized by external institutions and local artists, for example.
The local communities are influencing decision-making processes not only through their interaction with the museums workers, giving their feedback and inputs on the programme of exhibitions/activities. But also at a political level, as there are influent groups that have voice to articulate with politicians and can influence policy decisions and, therefore, also the cultural agenda of the municipality.
The Communication Office of the City Council, which brings together specialized technicians and politicians, provides support to the museums in the dissemination of their activities. The activities program/calendar is discussed with politicians linked to the Cultural Sector, who are aware of the events that are planned. However, there is creative freedom to present proposals. Periodic meetings are held with the different Sectors (Communication, Culture, Education, Tourism, Social Action, etc.) to plan joint activities and coordinate their dissemination. In addition to the website and social media, the communication of initiatives is also made through the affixation of advertising posters and local media (press, radio, etc.).
Visitors can benefit of the several recreational and pedagogical initiatives, aimed at different audiences, free of charge and accompanied by technicians of the City Council. There are general and thematic visits, workshops, games and theater, activities in schools, among others. Alongside the regular activities, pedagogical-didactic workshops related to short-term exhibitions or commemorative days are also offered.
At Peniche’s Bobbin Lace Museum, for example, there were lacemakers working in loco before the pandemic, what have allowed an interaction with the visitors. This has stimulated knowledge sharing, the valorization and commercialization of their work. Visitors can also attend the courses offered at the Bobbin Lace Municipal School, aimed at both youth and adults, learning the techniques and particularities of this cultural heritage.
Thus, the public have access to new experiences, that encourage reflection on heritage themes, promote preservationist attitudes, motivate different audiences for the different thematic areas that are related to the museums of the Museological Network. This is expected to disseminate and enhance the municipality’s cultural heritage.
The “Museum in the Village” initiative, for example, has a strong social dimension as it is aimed at an age group 65+, residing in territories with low population density. They talk about museums, pieces, heritage, but also sing, share, and spread smiles. This project is promoted by Rede Cultura 2027, co-financed by POISE Portugal2020 and implemented by SAMP (Sociedade Artística Musical dos Pousos). It covers 26 partner municipalities, including Peniche.
|Only information||Chance to suggest actions||Complaints or Compliments||Purchase of tickets||Open access or under registration|
|Proposing museum objectives||On funding issues||About museum planning||On accessibility|
Local artists and community members suggesting activities and exhibitions
General information about the museums and activities, such as opening hours, etc.
|Receipt message is sent||The proposal is discussed at the museum management level||Results of the discussion are sent|
The Museological Network’s website is a section of the main website of the Peniche City Council. The content is provided by the museums’ technicians, but the page is managed by the Communication Office of the Municipality. There, the users can access separate pages with more detailed information about each museum, such as their objectives, context, activities, opening hours, related links, etc. However, the design is not appealing, it is difficult to navigate as there are many separate pages, and there is no room for interaction besides through the contacts provided (telephone/email).
The digital interaction is made through their Facebook page, created in May 2020 to have a channel with the public during the pandemic. It has fostered a more immediate dialogue with a wider audience. The page has 2300+ likes and almost 2500 followers (as of January 2022). Most of the posts are informative, sharing content about the local heritage and commemorative dates, about the museums’ activities, advertising exhibitions and other cultural activities promoted by the City Council. Users have contributed with inputs, commenting on posts and interacting through direct messages. The contributions of the public have even helped the museums to enlarge and better know their own collection (e.g. receiving old pictures and collecting testimonies from them).
The participatory inventory and involving the community in the activities of the museums were considered relevant innovative initiatives because they have allowed internal research about the communities and their heritage. With the population participation, through the collection of testimonies and donation of old photographs, for example, it was possible to map their cultural heritage and sites of interest in order to study, promote and preserve this legacy. They have been collecting memories from community members, based on old photographs, to create exhibitions on different themes identified by the participants. Also, by receiving and supporting cultural initiatives of local partners, either exhibitions or training activities, the museums have been perceived as key players by the community.
Some of other initiatives considered innovative are related to the Peniche’s bobbin lace, a cultural heritage of more than 400 years. “When we talk about bobbin lace, the lacemakers are the stars. Naturally, we always seek to bring them into the spotlight and make them feel valued. And when we talk about the lacemakers, we are talking about an entire household. They used to make bobbin lace at home, their descendants always have this very close relationship with this craft. Many immigrants still have a piece produced by their grandmothers, for example. We always try to do interviews, life stories, surveys that allow the preservation not only of the pieces, but of their production and this know-how”, Janeirinho explains.
The projects “Discovery of the Bobbin Lace” and “Bobbin Lace goes to the School” take this cultural heritage to young children, who can learn from the elderly and absorb the importance of this legacy in a pedagogical and dynamic approach. Having the lacemakers working in the museum was also important, allowing an interaction with the visitors and stimulating the knowledge sharing, the valorization and commercialization of their work. This also has contributed somehow to the financial sustainability of this artwork and generated some income to the artisans. The City Council has established partnerships with different stakeholders, who buy the bobbin laces, design and produce clothes with them, organize exhibitions and fashion shows. They have been acting as a bridge between the lacemakers and possible clients, promoting the bobbin lace brand.
External research activities are being developed on Berlengas’ Archipelago, funded by the European Union (EU), in partnership with academic, environmental and governmental institutions. The project “LIFE Berlengas”, related to the Interpretive Center and Visitors Support of the Berlenga Island, funded by the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action (LIFE Programme), will contribute to the sustainable management of the Berlengas Special Protection Zone (SPA), with the aim of conserving their habitats, endemic plants and seabird populations. This project aims to understand the main threats that affect the natural values of the Berlengas, on land and at the sea, and define strategies to minimize and eradicate them. It is also intended to promote the sustainable use of the Berlengas SPA, focusing on three key activities: fishing, recreational activities and tourism.
|PROJECTS / ACTIONS||SHORT DESCRIPTION||SDG||IMPACTS|
|Exhibitions focusing on women||Showcasing the importance of women in the community||5||Raise awareness and promote the change of perceptions|
|Exhibitions and initiatives focusing on sustainability and ecology||Promoting the protection of marine life and conscious consumption||12, 14||Raise awareness and promote behavior change|
|Exhibitions focusing on peace and social justice||Promoting peace and social justice||16||Raise awareness and promote the change of perceptions|
|Donations made by the community||Food donations distribute to families in need||1, 2||Alleviate poverty and hunger|
Several activities of the museums are related to the SGDs, as they are shared concerns. However, none were created specifically to meet them. In terms of exhibitions, there are several that place women at the center (SDGs 5). For instance, the “Woman of the sea” intended to show case traditional female professions in Peniche related to the fishing and canning industries (sewing nets, selling fish, etc.), based on testimonies. Raquel Janeirinho stresses that not only the fishermen, “the man of the sea”, has a relationship with the sea. “It’s the whole community that has this relationship”.
In addition, there are several actions related to sustainability and ecology. For example, a recent itinerant exhibition, received by the CIAB, entitled “Climate Change and the Oceans of the Future”, tackled the importance of protecting marine life (SDG 14), promoting conscious consumption (SDG 12), and how we can address these issues. In the same thematic area, the documentary “Coastal Fishing Sound Heritage”, promoted by the City Council, sensitize about the local maritime identity, showcasing birds, fishermen and sustainable fishing. There were also initiatives promoting peace and social justice (SDG 16), mainly in relation to topics covered by the museum in the Peniche Fortress. Each museological space has a specific topic, and their initiatives may tackle the SDGs that have a logical connection with their scope.
There were even voluntary actions by the initiative of the people. For example, members of the community already went to the museums to donate food, and the technicians found ways to distribute these donations to families in need (SDGs 1 and 2). So there are some SDGs that are being addressed, proving that museums can be a place to raise awareness and promote change on these topics.
As Peniche is a touristic place, there was a drop in the number of visitors during the pandemic (5,916 in 2021, comparing to 14,464 in 2019). In 2020 and 2021 there were several months in which the museum centers were closed to the public and, even after they reopened, there were restrictions on access (maximum number of visitors allowed in the space). But as the museums’ entrance is free, there was no difference in terms of budget.
There was a difference from a holistic point of view, as the museums’ service is towards the visitors. Several cultural initiatives and events had to be cancelled, such as exhibitions’ openings, concerts and books’ launchings.
Since temporary exhibitions and other initiatives that promote social events in the museums were not taking place, a loss of community engagement was perceived by the staff. In order to connect with their audiences during this period, in May 2020 the museums network had the green light from the City Council to create its own Facebook page.
Some concerts were recorded at the museums to be streamed online (via Facebook) to foster a connection with the local community. After the first lockdown, in 2020, a collective exhibition entitled “(DIS)CONFINED ART” gathered the works that several local artists created during the period of isolation, allowing a reflection on the times in which we live through art. Video interviews, with testimonies of the artists reflecting on their creation processes, were posted on the Network’s Facebook page.
In addition to the loss of visitors, the activities of the educational service were also compromised. Guided visits and activities in schools were cancelled. Most of the people who attend the Bobbin Lace Municipal School are aged, and have this place as a day center where they learn new techniques, get occupied, interact with friends and make bobbin lace. Unfortunately, with the pandemic they no longer had these social activities, what may hamper their mental health. However, the school monitors still visited some of them and/or took their questions by telephone occasionally, even during this period, to support them. The school only reopened in 2021, receiving a maximum number of 6 to 10 lacemakers at the same time. They are still not interacting with visitors, who can only see them working through the glass.
Leandro França, Barbara Kazior, Óscar Navajas, Manuel Parodi-Álvarez, Lisa Pigozzi, Raul dal Santo, Julio Seoane, Maristela Simão