Sancho Querol, Lorena; Sancho, Emanuel (2015), "MuT: Connecting people, ideas and worlds to build a useful Museology", in Hugo Pinto (ed.), Resilient territories: innovation and creativity for new modes of regional development. UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 188-206. (ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-7230-0; ISBN-10: 1-4438-7230X).
Book Title: Resilient territories: Innovation and creativity for new modes of regional development Part II: Creativity Chapter XI: “MuT: Connecting people, ideas and worlds to build a useful Museology”1
The words Museology and Museum entail different textures, nuances and senses when understood through the perspective of a committed Museology with a sustainable development. "A Museology of inclusive nature" or a Social Museology emerges, whose participatory practices can be translated into the recognition of other agents, other heritages, other aspects of local culture. This article depicts the experience of a museum in the Algarve (Portugal) committed to this cause: the Costume Museum of São Brás de Alportel (MuT). Its management model, marked by the search for sustainability, by the freedom of action and the sharing resulting from the recognition and definition of new uses of local knowledge and experiences, is based on the existence of “action layers” that allow us to reposition Museology and Museum at the wake of the construction of an alternative globalization. Keywords: Social Museology, museum in “layers”, sustainability, empowerment, utopia.
1. This work is an improved and enhanced version of the Portuguese article “Sujeitos do património: os novos horizontes da Museologia Social em São Brás de Alportel”, published at Nº 21 of e-cadernos CES, a peer-reviewed online journal published by the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra (more information at: http://eces.revues.org/1735). This chapter also draws on research from the post-doctoral project of the first author “Society in the Museum: study on cultural participation in European local museums” (SoMus), co-financed by the European Social Fund through the Operational Programme of Human Potential, and by national funds through Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), in the context of the Post-Doctoral Grant with the reference SFRH/BPD/95214/2013.
For some time now, the idea of constructing a text on the management model that is being developed at the Costume Museum of São Brás de Alportel (MuT) has been in our mind. The desire to write emerged through dialogue and shared experiences, as daily paths towards the construction of the museum (Delgado, 2009). Taking as a starting point the challenges related to the construction of a development model where social and cultural creativity constitutes a structuring pillar of the process, an analysis of the place and role of the (local) Museum and (Social) Museology is performed through an inspiring case. Our goal is to systematize the way in which Social Museology MuT has built in recent years, because we find in it a set of experiences that translate into the valorization of local culture, in the exercise of a plural and evolutionary heritagisation, and in the identification and reuse of processes, senses and knowledges that give life to our cultural diversity. The work we present here is the result of a reflection around some issues that seems essentials to weave a Museology of otherness (Mayrand, 2009).
2. Social Museology and the local cause as museum semantics
From the heart of our theme, and taking into account that the kind of Museology practiced at MuT tends to be a reply to the profound exchange of paradigm that has been taking place in the fields of social science in the recent decades (Fraser, 2000; Bourdieu, 2001; Santos, 2009), it seems interesting to take a step back into the 1970s and to situate our study in the evolution and the crossing of three key concepts for museums in the 21st Century: Heritage, Museology and Development. In effect, two UNESCO documents approved during that decade, would place the basses of the compromises associated with these concepts. The first formed the product of the first huge convention on cultural heritage and privileged what we now consider a monumental and elitist notion of heritage (UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 1972). The second, known as Santiago Declaration (ICOM, 1972) and created by the museological section of this very entity, reflects the spirit of new social causes that play a central role on both sides of the Atlantic, pushing forth the debate begun with the UNESCO Regional Seminar on the Role of Education in Museums (ICOM, 1958) and recognizing its social function as based on the concept of the “integral museum”. In this document, ICOM lays its premises on a participatory Museology, capable of recognizing the museum as a dynamic instrument of social change, based on interdisciplinary work and the recognition of the museologist as a socio-political being (Cândido, 2003). Following on from this, we can then state that the 1970s witnessed the birth of sociocultural practice as playing a fundamental role in the museological process, as a means to integral development. Within this framework we are able to identify new ideologies based on a participative democracy which was gaining visibility, and also the recognition of social capital as an axis of cohesion and development. With the dawning of a new decade, the current debate and the natural evolution of those trends, delineated at Santiago, would result in the emergence of a new museological tendency which
under the title of New Museology (Quebec Declaration, 1984), proposes a renewal of principles and methodologies in this field of social science (Lorente, 2012; Sancho Querol, 2013). New forms of Museology (ecomuseums, school museums, community based, neighbourhood, urban…) had begun to spread throughout Europe and the Americas. Strengthened by the creation of an International Movement for a New Museology, in 1985 (http://www.minom-icom.net/about-us 19.08.2013), this current of thought structured its performance on a conceptual triad where Community, Territory and Heritage formed the base of a Social Museology (Fernández, 2003; Bruno, 2010). During that same period, the third of our concepts would finally come into being. Within a context drawn out from a (still) shy and early form of globalization, closely related to a growing environmental conscience, the report from the United Nations Worldwide Commission for the Environment and Development, “Our Common Future” which is best known as the “Brundtland Report” (UN, 1987) appears. Providing a critical vision of the development model, which had been adopted up till then by developed and developing nations, Brundtland defined the concept of Sustainable Growth, highlighting the risk of excessive use of natural resources without considering the capacity and support of ecosystems in the present, and consequently unsustainability for future generations. Following this initial alert, and as a result of the first United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UN, 1992), the Rio 92 Declaration and, above all, the Agenda 21, were crucial documents in pushing forth a reformulation of the development models which had been in force until then. In these documents, a strong relation between global environmental protection, its economic branching and social development could be figured out. In this sense, and as a result of this ongoing international debate and of the work of activists such as John Elkington, in the 90s we witnessed the rise of the "Model of Sustainability of Three Pillars” or "Triple bottom line" (Elkington, 1998) to answer those challenges posed by organizations such as the United Nations. Structured according to three key dimensions: Social (justice), Economic (prosperity) and Environmental (quality) (http://www.sustainability.com/history, 12.09.2013), this concept of sustainability revealed interesting similarities with another concept that had previously been established in Santiago, do Chile. The main challenge was then to build an enhanced model, resulting from the intersection of these two premises and able to put the Museum right at the center. Despite developing from different contexts, and keeping in mind that New Museology emerged associated to socio-cultural development, the concepts were moving closer together in rationale making it possible to establish an interesting parallel between them. Indeed, due to its nature and commitments, the Social Dimension of the concept of Sustainability could be equaled to the concept of Community in New Museology, as can the Environmental Dimension be set equal to Territory. Nonetheless, in comparing the third dimension of Sustainability (the Economic) with the third working axis of New Museology (Heritage) the process seemed to lose its natural linearity. Within this framework of thought and reflection, we now realize that the discrepancies between the Economic Dimension and Heritage in fact revealed two great absences, which would only appear in the 21st Century. The New Museology Heritage did bring the challenges related with that which is today the fourth pillar of sustainable development: Culture (Hawkes, 2001; UN, 2012). At the same time, the Economic Dimension of Development introduced the challenges
concerning the place a Museum could also have on the economic sustainability of the environment in which it operates and, consequently, on Museum theory itself. Henceforth, the steps taken would be marked by the progressive awareness of these absences, giving rise to the definition of specific measures that could minimize the effects. As a result, Heritage Studies welcomed the humanization of heritage, expressed through the process of broadening the concept. This process would lead to a reformulation of the concept of cultural heritage, expressed at the international level with the inclusion of popular culture (UNESCO, 1989), the creation of the Intangible Heritage section of UNESCO (1993), the policies of protections and valorisation of cultural diversity (UNESCO, 2001) and the recognition of the intangible dimension of cultures (UNESCO, 2003). Within this process and located at the center of the debate, is the need to safeguard the knowledge and traditions in process of disappearance. These thoughts make us today confront the challenge where the valorization of local (by someone’s referred as glocalization) intermingles with the preservation of the living culture. At stake is a whole collective bargaining of local cultural processes, which translates, among other things, in the construction of contemporary identities (Gonçalves, 2007; Alivizatou, 2012). Simultaneously, since the decade of the 90s, New Museology initiated a process of approximation to other disciplines of the social sciences, which would end in the regeneration of the museological current under the name of Social Museology or Sociomuseology. From this moment the discipline is in direct relation to sustainable development through the Museum, with the participation of communities in the definition, together with the management and socialization of cultural and natural artifacts; i.e. focusing this Sociomuseology science practice on the concept of museum as a collective project. Well into the second decade of the 21st century, and facing such great changes as those we are now crossing, the need and pertinence to reposition museums and Museology at the heart of our society becomes evident. With this in mind, and conscious of the role the museum holds in the process of development, where culture rests as one of the main axes of practice (ICOM, 2013a), ICOM reminds us of the potential of the museum, and of heritage as positive engines of development rather than simple sources of expenditure, as they have been seen till now (ICOM, 2013b). In this context Sociomuseology, carrying forward its challenges, understands today the Museum as a political, poetic and pedagogical process in permanent construction (MINOM, 2013), which develops from a deep and broad concept of participation (Moutinho, 2010). It encompasses the four axes which integrate this development model, in order to locate the Museum in an interdisciplinary framework, in the center of the system. Microcosm and local laboratory of an evolving society, the Museum, by its ability to mobilize, can contribute to the appreciation and (re)use of natural resources (the result of a constructive relationship with the territory and the environment) and cultural resources (by repositioning the values of culture and heritage in local everyday life), the construction of a social justice (from a self concept of community as the driving structure) and of an equitable economy (which involves the challenge of building new forms of local harmony, from the biocentric model) (Acosta, 2013).
Under the optic of Sociomuseology, museums must understand that it´s great heritage are people (Chagas, 2013) thus contributing to the construction of an alternative globalization. Let's take the case of MuT.
3. At a village in the Algarve interior
The Costume Museum of São Brás de Alportel was born in 1983 when its founder, Father José da Cunha Duarte, decided to organize an exhibition of ethnographic objects in the Fire Department of São Brás de Alportel. With the help of the local Parish Social and Cultural Centre, a more thorough process of ethnographic collecting was started from which, in due time the idea of constructing a museum with this thematic focus was born. The objective was to research and to provide information on local artifacts. It was in 1987 when the museum took form. Stimulated both by the interest shown in local assets, but also by the mission of social support and local development, the Santa Casa da Misericórdia of São Brás de Alportel2 (SCM), decided to get involved in the project, accepting request of Father José to look after the existing collection. The SCM, embarked on this mission with the local ethnography in mind, and while benefiting from the donation of a 19th Century property, and located in the village centre, created a new place of interest, focussing on matters that the priest had brought to the attention of the village: the António Bentes Cultural Centre3. In the hands of the Misericórdia, the house would become the Etnographic Museum of Algarve Costume and fully operational around 1990. The idea was to have its own building with one appointed employee, a small group of volunteer collaborators and a corpus of intentions that foresaw the existence of revenues and the freedom to produce its own cultural agenda.4 It is worth mentioning that, if on the one hand, the centennial principles of the SCM were based on the social needs as priorities in its field of action, and cultural heritage was placed on a secondary level, on the other hand, its solidity provided a stable environment which favored the implementation of long term projects. These projects were based on the practice of concepts such as “cause, social conscience and citizenship”, and today also applied to ecology, the preservation of cultural heritage or integrated development (Sancho, 2006). These were the first years of existence of the Cultural Centre and of its Museum from 1987 onwards. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that the poor state the building was in, would lead to continual thorough renovation works that took place between 1993 and 2003. Meanwhile, the existing collection was beginning to gain visibility for its ethnographic and heritage value. In this highly demanding field of textile heritage, the lack of organization and of inventory, as well as the deficient conditions of preservation in which most of the assets were found required the training of a small team. This formation relied on the specialized support of the National Costume Museum.
2. The Santa Casa da Misericórdia of São Bras de Alportel, is the local branch of a nationwide organization of the same name, which focuses on social and charitable work of different types. 3. See “Protocol signed between the Santa Casa da Misericórdia of São Brás de Alportel and the Parish Social and Cultural Centre of São Brás de Alportel” (1987) in: www.museu-sbras.com/docs-protocolo1987.pdf and the updated document in 1992 at: www.museu-sbras.com/docs-protocolo1992.pdf 4. See “Rules and guidelines” at: www.museu-sbras.com/docs-regulamento-ccab1987.pdf
In fact, the bases on which this project rested – lack of properly trained staff, the nature of its ownership, the self-management model, low budget and the “collective essence” of the museum origins and collection – did not allow for analogies with more conventional models. Due to the intrinsic characteristics of the territory, the bond with the locals became indispensable, for reasons of mutual recognition to further enrich the museological assets, while also to expand the technical team based on the diversity of knowledge and local experiences, and the selfsustainability of the project. Therefore, slowly but surely, throughout the years and following the natural evolution of these processes the Ethnographic Museum of Algarve Costume developed its own dynamics based on two central profoundly intertwined pillars: the collective construction of processes related to the life of the Museum (matching with life besides its own), and the definition of a central theme of study which allowed for the proximity of historical, geographical, social and cultural contexts of the region: the field of fashion and costume heritage (Sancho, o.c.). Simultaneously, and in recognition of the work in progress, from 1994 onwards the museum would employ a second worker. In the same way, and according to the politics of value for difference and diversity (Abreu, forthcoming) that had started to gain strength in the beginning of the century, but also aligned with the principles and methods of Social Museology, from 2006 onwards the Museum’s new name, Costume Museum of São Brás de Alportel, would come to reflect its local commitment. On this basis, and under the patronage of the Misericórdia, MuT currently relies on a staff of three (1 director and two employees) who guarantee museological management, its daily opening to the public and the maintenance of its spaces. Educational services, inventory and management of technical reservations are in the hands of volunteers, or contracted personnel with experience, knowledge and possibilities of cooperating with the Museum (see the layer of the “Visible Museum”, Figure 11-1). In this context, the Museum director is responsible for the museological management and organizes medium and long term initiatives, exhibitions and projects with the help of a group of different collaborators of varied fields of specialization. The planning and putting together of new exhibitions, having the contents well defined and the selection and collection of objects based on collective work processes, falls within the scope and responsibility of the local enterprise Museu à Medida. Something similar is occurring in the area of Design and Communication, in charge of the young company No traço, whose economic viability depends on the services provided to MuT and mostly to the outside market. The Cantinho do Museu, the small Museum bar, functions through the collaborative concession to young entrepreneurs with interest in giving life to this part of the garden (see le layer of the “Integrating Museum”, Figure 10-1). On the other hand, along with the exhibition and research project program (see the layer of the “Long term Museum”, Figure 10-1) MuT relies on a cultural and recreational agenda which is the responsibility of the Friends of the Museum who, as a result of their efforts and the value of their interaction with the institution, occupy a place of great visibility within the general structure. The Friends are a multilicultural association of about 800 members, who are responsible for a vast sociocultural program, for the functioning of various autonomous groups in the fields of theatre, music, photography, fitness, history and handcrafts in addition to a multilingual library (see the layer of the “Day to day Museum”, Figure 10-1), and also for its
voluntary initiatives which are fundamental for the proper functioning of the inventory and heritage educational services. Within this kind of structure, the many organizations which share museological spaces benefit from an autonomy based on individual responsibility, assuming the management, the mediation and the building of a working network. The team, collaborators, volunteers, collectivities, organizations and users see MuT as a space for sharing, based on the development of sociocultural creativity and on the valuing of new uses of natural and cultural diversity characteristic of the region. The Museum sees itself as an experimental field for an alternative management model, which may represent a contribution to the social function of the community museums, but also as laboratory able to give a new meaning and a new scale to the concepts of heritage and heritagisation. Recognized as the guardian of a collective past and present memory, and as the generator of plural dialogues committed to safeguarding diversity, MuT constructs itself as a Museum which is useful to the people, both in their daily lives, as well as in its relation with the local environment. In this process, and along with the ideological values which can be found at the basis of its creation and evolution (social solidarity and Social Museology), the key to its development seems to rest in the museological and cultural autonomy it succeeded in gaining. Looking into the past, we now realize how the origins of MuT shaped its present form and content. But much more than its natural framing, its initial bond with the local communities has come to be a continual essential factor in its evolution, allowing for the achievement of a sociocultural level of maturity as we will be discussing next.
4. MuT: a day to day museum, from collective strength to shared knowledge
The encounter of a number of improbable conditions at MuT caused a peculiar development in the management model. Motivated by the freedom of action, by financial autonomy as a means to the sustainability of the Museum and as an example for the area where it is located, this museum today counts on high levels of participation and involvement of the population. For the reasons above, it has become an interesting case study, especially from the point of view of new practices related to Social Museology, but also from the perspective of new models of social and cultural development structured from the base to the top. Indeed, MuT functions as a platform for the encounter and recognition of knowledge and experience of life which nurtures the concept of sociocultural diversity in the Algarve interior. In this sense, the management assumes postures and practices aiming at the development of a truly transversal model, based on the contemporary concept of the network, involving the intense exercise of the construction of the Museum as a space for empowerment of local populations. Keeping all these aspects in mind and within a perspective which conforms the experimental character of this process, we can then ask ourselves about what characterizes the Museum of São Bras. MuT satisfies most of the requirements to be classified as a Museum, both from the point of view of the parameters stipulated by the Portuguese Museum Network (RPM), as in the definitions and international norms defined by ICOM. However, this is not a Museum in the strict sense of the term, that is, it does not just deplete its mission in a neutral way, satisfying the
museological functions internationally defined, from a theme or a territorial framework. We are faced with a type of museum which is profoundly inspired on the principles and practices of Social Museology, which makes MuT the result of the progressive adaptation to natural and human geographies of place, with the purpose of becoming useful to local development.
Museum in layers
Figure 11-1: The cultural ecosystem of MuT seen through the layers of museological action. (Authorship: Emanuel Sancho e Lorena Sancho Querol)
4.1. Systemizing the experience
So as to better understand the functioning of MuT, and above all the sociomuseological character
of the project, we have created a table which allows us to approach each of the layers that are presently included in the Museum as it is today (Figure 11-1). Within it we have defined four levels of practice according to the type of social, cultural and territorial outreach, but also that of the objectives, of the agents and of the public that use it, so as to better explain the management model of our main character. In this table, the Visible Museum takes as its starting point the museological practices which are today globally recognized as part of a Museum; there we find the dynamics related to exhibitions and catalogues, research and publication, the collections and the activities of heritage education. This layer is especially directed towards the visiting public, who are looking for more information on local culture and realities. Yet at MuT we witness the co-existence of new skills and volunteer work, environmental and artistic projects, diverse forms, colors and intensities of utopia, and also the commitment of providing a new sustainable management of the resources related with the Museum and the territory in line with a broader and inclusive concept of culture. The second layer of visibility, not of lesser importance, brings to life the Day to Day Museum. It is in this layer that the Friends of the Museum, thanks to the autonomy which they are given by the management and in a meaningful relation with the locals, provide training, information and socialization through the previously referred initiatives. The construction of this Day to Day
Museum demands presence, attention and permanent listening to the needs and aspirations of those who co-habit the land with the Museum. It demands “living with” the people, meaning, identifying synergies capable of accompanying rhythms, making the most of knowledge, time and spaces, in order to make the Museum useful to everyday life. This process has been translating itself into a growing affluence of public and users, through a diversified, daily use of spaces and, consequently, through the increasing revenue that results in a stable functioning of this organization, allowing for the creation of a new position: the Administrator of the Friends association. Yet in this layer, and due to the characteristics of the activities it develops, it should be stressed that, according to the nature and participative intensity, the MuT establishes a difference between the public visitors, i.e. the people inhabiting, or not, the territory of the Museum, use it in an sporadic and distanced way, and the users, i.e. those people who attend regularly and with whom MuT establishes a lasting social and cultural interaction enriching for both parties (Victor, 2005). At a deeper level, which combines decreased outside visibility with a growing level of local utility, another museum emerges: one which integrates within its spaces long term projects, services, new businesses, ideas, dreams and local associations, taking on the role of an Integrating Museum. Within this framework, MuT performs yet another social function: that of supporting people and organizations in pursuing its individual and collective objectives, constructing through proximity and complicity a collaborative community of individual interests, which complement each other and intersect on a daily basis. This interaction play allows for the consolidation of a sociocultural facet of a museological project through new collaboration, diversity of experiences, cultures and skills, the creation of innovative competences, in short, the social renovation based on the axis of local cultural development. At last, we find the layer of the “substratum”, that is, the not so visible but still the most structuring in the construction of a long term sociomuseological equilibrium, whether for its ethical implications - in its economic, ecological, social and heritage perspectives – as for its capacity to make the museological project sustainable, contributing to the recognition of the role of the Museum within the scope of local development. What we are referring to, is the Long term Museum, a layer of MuT where we find the initiatives and projects which, in the long term, are allowing, among other things:
- To broaden the DNA heritage in the Algarve interior (Varine, 2012) with the participation of different local collectives, whose experiences and knowledge allow us to identify other forms of heritage community capital; - To contribute to the recognition of a social experience and local culture, and to expand from here to the construction of a solidary and inclusive knowledge (Santos, 2009), capable of responding to the challenges of contemporary societies; - To transmit, through heritage education, the active and structured safeguarding mechanisms taking from processes of action-research that privilege alterity, intergenerational and multicultural dialogue, starting from the school-museum axis. - To establish principles and good practices of sustainable Museology from environmental and economic, social and cultural perspectives, allowing for the best use of local resources and the reuse of different capitals coproduced with the Museum.
Subjacent to this structure we find the foundations of an edifice that is the result of a constant effort in creating stability in the long term, in order to achieve the recognition as a space for selfdetermination and freedom, but also for sustainability in its most diverse forms.
4.2. On the construction of economic sustainability
Taking a different look at these layers of action, we propose to analyze the current experiences according to their economic maturity, in order to understand how this dimension of sustainable Museology, essential in present times, is being constructed. We then surveyed these four stages of maturity:
- in a first group we identify the components that reveal an intentional commercial objective and that, besides allowing for the creation of new work posts born out of cultural dynamics, they constitute regular sources of income at MuT: i.e the Shop and the Bar (more information at: www.museu-sbras.com/bar.html). - in the second group we find the initiatives that have achieved full economic sustainability, that is, that generate funds equivalent to the spending for adequate functioning. It is, for example, exhibition activity versus the museographic activity, publications versus research, and also of the group of Friends of the Museum (see: http://www.amigos-museu-sbras.org/), who won their majority in 2007, when they passed to balance its revenue and expenditure (which includes the creation of the referred work post); - the third group includes part-time job projects that comply with a plan of economic viability at medium term. These are funded, in the meantime, through other projects which have already achieved economic stability. Some examples are the initiatives of the Museu à Medida, (http://museuamedida.yolasite.com/) and NoTraço, Graphic Design enterprise (http://museusbras.wix.com/design); - the fourth group includes museum departments which on their own do not generate enough revenue to be self-sustainable. It is necessary that the Museum itself produces additional funds to support their existence. Practical examples of these cases area the Documentation Centre (library management and arquives) and the Maintenance Service. MuT continues searching for a suitable formula to acquire those funds.
5. Redefining concepts, practices and meanings in the museum
Following this line of action, and conscious of the importance of the construction of a Museology capable of associating social involvement with sustainability, the MuT rethinks itself around a question that seems vital to us: how to materialize, in practice, the interrelation between the four pillars of sustainable development and the three axes of practice that brought Social Museology to life, in order to define new logic and modes of action for the local museum. From this perspective, and taking as a starting point the structure already presented in Figure 111, in order to gain a deeper understanding of some of the work at MuT, we have identified four experiences that seemingly respond to the challenge of constructing this sustainability, and that will be analyzed next:
Project Photography, Memory and Identity (FMId).
The FMId project was born in 2009 and established itself as an exercise in archeological memory about the municipality of São Brás. This project allowed the Museum to decode other segments of the local DNA heritage, among which are: traditional knowledge, history and local memory, balanced uses of local resources, new ways of alternative economy, of community organization, etc. In this process, the Museum assumes the role of mediator of the local population. Objective: To work on the visual memory of the territory, from photographical archives of local families, with the aim of constructing a huge album of the community, capable of decoding cultural, social, rural and urban cartographies which have long been forgotten but are fundamental for the understanding/construction of a the present looking out into the future. Methodology: organizing weekly meetings with a small group of local citizens with the right profile and interest in this process, to work on the decoding of submerged memories through family images, dating back to various periods and social segments of the region. These people assume the role of document gatherers or collectors together with the community, and actively participate in the technical work of inventory and documentation. Results and products: along the chosen course and while giving voice to the working group, the Museum has gradually been assuming a discreet position, that of the facilitator and supplier of memories that are awakened through work. This project uses new information technology support platforms to facilitate the sharing of memories located within and outside the Museum, contributing to the constant enlargement of the project on different scales. Simultaneously, a data base was created containing today around 30.000 images representing 400 local families of the municipality and surroundings. For this reason, Museum and community share the idea that together they have managed to create a “current account of memory” for each of the local families. In fact, the typology of the documentation integrated at the family processes have diversified, integrating also correspondence, legal documents, video and audio records, etc., in a very dynamic process that is close to the family changes, for example, births, marriages and deaths (more information at: www.museu-sbras.com/grupofotos.html).
Image 11-2: Study of local identities and biographies at the “Escola Particular da Menina Sousinha” (Particular School of Miss Sousinha”) São Brás de Alportel. Origin: Personal archive of Júlio Martins Negrão, (cousin and pupil of the teacher Sousinha).
Museum School Project (EMus).
The EMUS project was born in 2008 and aims to contribute to closer ties between Education and Culture on a glocal scale. The project connects the environmental, social and cultural dimension of sustainability. Within this context, it aims to develop complementary relations that exist between formal and non-formal education, bringing the School and Museum into closer contact in view of the creation of an educational heritage project aimed at the Portuguese primary school levels (6-10 years of age). Considering as its priority the formation of new generations and the demystification of the elitist image that children and families have of museums, this project places MuT at the service of the school, facilitating the proceedings by eliminating barriers and bureaucracies, and allowing freedom of action to the teaching staff. Objective: To develop close relations and tighter cooperation between School and Museum, stimulating work through a diversity of aspects and themes related with the local culture and territory. The construction of an affective and lasting relationship between the Museum, the children and their families, aims at:
1. Valuing the natural and cultural diversity of the region, country and planet; 2. Transmitting the values of citizenship and critical thought; 3. Developing new habits and cultural needs among families; 4. Inserting the Museum into the circle of spaces and common livelihoods of local families; 5. Redefining its areas of traditional heritage education through the creation of new fields of study; 6. Creating a Youth Group of Friends of the Museum (JoMus)
Methodology: By directing local schools located close to MuT, EMUS has in view the creation of an annual agenda of activities constructed between the professor and the Museum, based on the recognized needs of the school programs and on the characteristics of each class. In this way, for the duration of four academic years which represent the cycle, monthly activities on local heritage will take place. Results and products: Identifying the proximity, constancy and assiduity as key factors in the process, EMUS has allowed, among other results, the following: the spreading/visibility of educational activities with the community and the Museum visitors, the raising of the quality of some school activities due to the technical intervention of the Museum, a greater involvement of families with events. At the same time, it has promoted educational processes, with free access to teachers, students and families to various MuT initiatives, and the use of some resources and museological assets in the school activities (more information at: http://www.museusbras.com/escolamuseu.html).
Image 11-3: Activities of the project EMus. (Author: Emanuel Sancho)
Participative Exhibition “A hundred years later” (CADe).
Crossing the economic, social and cultural dimensions of sustainability, CADe will be the next exhibition to be held at MuT, and will be inaugurated on November 2014. Its provisional title being A hundred years later, this exhibition is a museological initiative to celebrate the centenary of the municipality of São Brás de Alportel (1914-2014). It is the second edition of a museographical experience which resulted in the current exhibition open to the public at MuT5. The new exhibition will rely on the same methodology as before but improving from the previous exhibition taking a step further. Objective: to promote the participation of everyone, who because of the relation with the territory, history and culture, accepts the challenge and the museological right to cooperate in the design, management and materialization of exhibitions at MuT, encouraging network and defining new courses of action that lead to a participatory Museology. Methodology: this type of participative exhibition takes as a starting point the creation of a working group integrated by the community and museum agents, and also the opening of an internet page where the museological initiative can be found, yet to be created and from which the whole process of conception and participative assembling of the exhibition is organized. Within this virtual space all the details of the process, planning, layout of the spaces, itineraries, selection of artifacts, research, work memo and agenda will be made available and permanently updated. Participation is made possible through the various forums are available on the web page.
5. Algarve 19, was a museological(graphical) shared experience organized in 2010 which led to the exhibition Shadows of Light. Algarve in the 19th Century. The webpage that served as a platform for its developments is still available at: www.algarve19.yolasite.com
Images 11-4 and 11-5: Some details of the last experiences of participatory exhibition. (Author: Emanuel Sancho)
Results and products: These experiences stimulate the cooperation between a great diversity of people among which we find collectors, technicians or merely interested participants from all over the world. The previous experience revealed an important participation of immigrant groups who had left the region and settled around the world, making of this process a link to their place of origin. In this sense, it is worthy to highlight as strong points of this experience the transparency of the procedures regarding the organization of the exhibition, the profound level of sharing that defines the process and the incentive towards the collaborative model, (webpage of the current proceedings: www.museu-sbras.com/100anos.html).
Green Museum project (MuVe).
Of the projects here referred, MuVe could be considered the one that better intertwines the challenges linking Social Museology and sustainable development. In this experience we are able to verify the adoption of a set of good environmental practices that reveal relevant economic impacts in the management at MuT, and that raises awareness in the Museum and its community of the great environmental issues that currently affect our planet. This project has totally altered the position of the Museum, namely in what concerns waste separation, use of low energy consumption equipment, production of compost, watering systems with treated waters, use of bicycles for short distance travel or the use of solar and wind powered energy. Besides that, the construction of a 10Kw photovoltaic station is now complete and awaiting licensing, guaranteeing the Museum energy self-sufficiency (more information at: http://www.museu-sbras.com/museuverde.html).
Images 11-6: Original building of MuT where MuVe Project becomes a reality. (Author: Emanuel Sancho)
6. Final considerations
Our aim to demonstrate the challenges of a Museum in construction, has been achieved by associating to the notion of Museum the idea of process, and to the notion of construction the challenges that are common to other architectures, other heritages, and other causes that deserve our attention today, because they represent the foundations of the present changes. To this end, we wanted to question the place (and the power) of the museum, within the meaning process of the "heritage" term, and to examine the building process of an equitable society, where culture, in its various shapes and sizes, has an essential role. Working from within this encounter of senses and values, absences and presences, times and forms, with a small team and low budget, which is mostly the result of the initiatives and the creative use of local diversity, is for MuT a daily exercise that responds to the challenges of Social Museology committed to the cause of sustainability. Social creativity, cultural sensibility and museological flexibility appear to be the keys to the process where, along with the experiences carried out, we also find initiatives that failed to attain a minimal stable structure, ending its life cycle before the desired time. We also learn to build the museum from these experiences. Step by step we walk along the paths of a Museology that Unites and acts with Social conscience, that Empowers worlds and local voices to give sense to the word Utopia, in a country that finds in its diversity – cultural and natural – its greatest treasure.
With gratitude: The ideas here presented are the result of a collective critical construction in which Afonso Cunha, Dália Paulo, Glória Maria Marreiros, José D´Encarnação, Mário Moutinho and Rui Parreira accepted the challenge that helped us to put this article together.