and Museums Azores
heritage of the Azores dates back to the mid 1400’s, so it is not
surprising that the museums of the Azores represent a wide range
of interests, subjects and value of the collections. Sometimes
the location of the museums is of as much as interest as the collection
itself. However, in the Azores, the out-of-the-ordinary museums
are matched by those with significant collections of historical,
cultural or natural history interest. Architectural details from
the early settlers’ churches and buildings make fascinating viewing.
Since several of the islands were settled originally by Portuguese
and Flemish families, writings, books, household furnishings and
decorations, and personal items from the founding families can be
found in some of the collections.
It is said that Christopher
Columbus stopped at the Azores Islands on his way back from his
first trip to America and made his way to a chapel to pray. He
was assumed to be a pirate and had a fair amount of explaining to
do before being released and allowed to continue on his way. The
chapel where he and his crew prayed is one of the local museums.
Museums on many of the islands reflect that sense of heritage held
by the local residents. Displays celebrate the flora and fauna,
the cultural achievements and the historical roots of the people
of the islands.
On the third island are found
several museums, including the Angra do Heroísmo Museum located
in the seventeenth century former Convento do São Francisco. It
contains pieces ranging from carriages and landaus to furniture.
Numerous displays of weapons, medals, coins, navigation instruments,
music sculptures, paintings, porcelains, ceramics and furniture
are located in the original building.
On the same grounds is the
Church of St Francis, also known as the Igreja de Nossa Senhora
da Guia. This beautiful neoclassic style structure, dating from
the last half of the eighteenth century contains gilded cedar wood
ceilings, and gilded wood carved retables. Sculpture and statues,
as well as glazed tile panels are just some of the decorations for
the interior. The entire core of the city of Angra do Heroísmo
has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You could
spend days viewing the cultural and navigational bridge used by
the Portuguese explorers in their journeys from the Old and New
World. The fortress and castle at Monte Brasil, the Igreja de São
Joao Baptista and the Castelo de São Sebastião, are all worthy of
a visit. No less than nine convents and surrounding grounds are
part of the city’s history, all of which could be considered to
Also on the island of Terceira
is the Azores only wine making museum. It’s one of the newest museums
in the islands and illustrates the process of wine-making.
http://manorhouses.com/unesco/whangra.html --> city
walk in Angra do Heroísmo
Machado Museum located in the city of Ponta Delgada is considered
one of the most notable of the Azorean museums. The collection
was begun in 1880 with mostly items of zoological, botanical and
mineralogical interest. Later additions included sections on ethnography
and regional art. In 1930, the museum was relocated to the circa
1600 former Convento de Santo André building. Since 1930 the collection
has added categories of jewelry, folk art, glazed tiles, porcelain,
toys and painting. The Museu Carlos Machado has an especially significant
collection of the works of the 16th century Portuguese school.
Clarke, a world-renowned expert on sperm whales is the curator
of at whale museum which items from his lifework. While there
are several museums about whales on the islands, not many of them
are blessed with an expert such as Dr. Clarke on site. One of
the exhibits features a life size silhouette model of the largest
sperm whale ever caught in the Azores. It’s built on the cliff-top
overlooking the Azorean seas and is mind-boggling for sheer size.
Another display here is about the giant squid.
one of the museums, but an interesting place to visit, nonetheless
is the sailor’s art wall in Horta. It seems there is a tradition/superstition
of painting a picture on the seawall at Horta before leaving on
a voyage. These are hundreds of such works, some signed and dated,
and including pictures of sea creatures; the names of the artist’s
ship is usually featured prominently.
Also in Faial is another of
the museums associated indirectly with the sea. Above a local café
and gathering place is the Scrimshaw Museum which contains one of
the world’s largest collections of scrimshaw. Scrimshaw is an art
form practiced by whaling ship crews, using bones and teeth of the
whales, walrus and seals.
Please visit our Yellow
Pages to get more information about the museums...