Madeira Photography Museum - Atelier Vicente's: the History of the Portuguese Museum of 2020

Entrance to the antechamber of the Photographic Atelier of the Madeira Photography Museum - Atelier Vicente`s. Photography Marco Gonçalves

The Madeira Photography Museum - Atelier Vicente's is the oldest photography studio in the country. He has remained in the same family for four generations and has been awarded the Museum of the Year 2020 Award.

The Madeira Photography Museum - Atelier Vicente’s brings together a vast collection of scenarios, cameras and a photographic archive with around 800,000 negatives, of which 400,000 are from the Vicentes collection, already cataloged, dated between 1870 and 1978.

Inaugurated in 1863, by Vicente Gomes da Silva, it remained active until 1978. In that year, the building that housed it, in the heart of Funchal, as well as the estate, with more than 1.5 million negatives, were acquired by the Government Regional of Madeira.

In 1863 the house opened again to the public. After three years, Vicente Gomes da Silva received the title of photographer of the Empress of Austria, Isabel of Bavaria - the legendary Sissi. In 1903, he received a new title - photographer of Casa Real Portuguesa.

Left: Workshop machine built by Vicente Gomes da Silva, Júnior in 1885 with intermediate frame and DallmeAyer 3-B lens No. 11656 with adapter for diaphragms. Right: Aubert Magic Lantern, Rainurée by Louis Aubert. Lampascope model c. 1880. Photography Marco Gonçalves

The studio becomes a museum

It was in 1846 that Vicente Gomes da Silva started his activity as an engraver and, in 1856, he started in the art of photography, from his residence. In 1865, he moved to Rua da Carreira, where he built his photography studio in the gardens.

Vicente Gomes da Silva's work was valued and his studio became one of the best equipped of the 19th century. This photography museum had already spent four generations in the same family and, after a new closed period, opened to the public as a museum in 1982.

It is closed, this time for works, in 2014, with the rehabilitation of the building comprising 1.2 million euros for the executive, and 500 thousand euros, for a community contribution of 85%, in the restoration and safeguarding of the collection.

It reopened on July 29, 2020, with a temporary exhibition entitled "Treasures of Portuguese Photography of the 19th century", and maintains a permanent exhibition that represents several authors included in the collection, which includes the estate of practically all the great Madeiran houses of 19th and 20th century photographs.
Museum of the Year 2020

The Portuguese Association of Museology (APOM) highlighted the Madeira Photography Museum - Atelier Vicente's with the Museum of the Year 2020 Award.

The photography museum will now receive a glass trophy, designed by Fernando Quintas , painter and professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Universidade Nova de Lisboa. The ambition is for the museum to be a reference at the national level to project Madeira internationally in this area.

Entrance yard to the Atelier of the Madeira Photography Museum - Atelier Vicente's. Photography Marco Gonçalves

The ceremony was organized online, where the honors were presented with 32 awards for the previous year. Attributed to museums, projects, good practices, professionals and various activities developed in the sector, throughout the country.

APOM received 208 applications from institutions in Mainland Portugal and the Autonomous Regions, as well as from Portuguese exhibition projects abroad. In this edition, among the personalities in the area of ​​museology , the museologist Alda Costa and the archaeologist Cláudio Torres also distinguished themselves.

Outstanding unknown authors and works

In addition to maintaining the memory of the original studio, the photography museum of the Madeira archipelago, assumes itself as the only national museum entirely dedicated to photography, revealing Madeira's photographic heritage and many of its authors and works.

Among the predecessors to the Vicente's Photography Museum are the museum of the Bienal Art Foundation of Cerveira , in Viana do Castelo (2019), the Metalúrgica Duarte Ferreira Museum , in Tramagal (2018) and the Money Museum , in Lisbon (2017) ).