Public reorganization of cultural heritage comes into existence today

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The public reorganization of the heritage sector comes into operation today with the formal start of the Museus e Monumentos de Portugal (MMP) company and the Património Cultural public institute, which replace the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage.

MMP is headed by the former chairman of the board of directors of the São João National Theater, Pedro Sobrado, with Cláudia Leite and Maria de Jesus Monge as members, while the public institute will have the former director-general of Cultural Heritage, João Carlos dos Santos, as chairman of the board, with Catarina Coelho and Laura Castro as vice-chairmen.

The MMP, based in Lisbon, will include “museums with national and international collections, as well as national palaces and monuments and World Heritage sites”. It will also have responsibility for the José de Figueiredo Laboratory (LJF), the State Contemporary Art Collection (CACE) and the Photographic Documentation Archive and its collection at the Sacavém Fort.

The Cultural Heritage Institute, headquartered in Porto and with “facilities in the North Wing of the Ajuda National Palace” in Lisbon, has “responsibilities in terms of safeguarding and conserving heritage assets, classified or in the process of being classified, drawing up plans and projects for the implementation of interventions and their implementation, support and technical monitoring and inspection, as well as research into cultural heritage, a mission to be pursued in close coordination with other entities, namely the Regional Coordination and Development Commissions, local authorities and other public and private entities,” according to the decree-law that created it.

The institute is also responsible for the National Center for Nautical and Underwater Archaeology, the Archaeosciences Laboratory, the Sacavém Fort, the Archaeology Libraries and Archives, and the Cultural Heritage Safeguard Fund.

Both bodies have an advisory board and, in the case of the MMP, there is also a board of trustees, chaired by the rector of the Portuguese Catholic University, Isabel Capeloa Gil.

MMP will thus be responsible for some of the most visited places in the country, from the Belém Tower in Lisbon to Guimarães Castle and the Sagres Fortress in Vila do Bispo, as well as all the national museums and others such as the José Malhoa Museum in Caldas da Rainha and the Lamego Museum.

The Cultural Heritage department is responsible for numerous churches and convents, from Freixo de Espada à Cinta to Vidigueira, and sites such as the ruins of Milreu in Faro.

At the same time, dozens of cultural facilities are due to be transferred to municipal control, according to the reorganization model presented last June.

Some of these transfers have met with opposition from local heritage officials and regional political structures, particularly in the district of Bragança, where the Abade de Baçal Museum and the Terra de Miranda Museum will end up under the management of the MMP, and the Domus Municipalis and Bragança Castle in the Cultural Heritage area, as the Ministry of Culture told Lusa last Friday, contrary to what was initially announced.

By the end of the first half of the year, tenders will have been launched for the directors of the facilities integrated into the MMP, the José de Figueiredo Laboratory and the State Contemporary Art Collection, despite the fact that international tenders for the museums have recently been held. In the case of the National Museum of Ancient Art, whose director was inherently deputy director-general of Cultural Heritage, it didn’t even open.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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