Museums are born of dreams, of needs and of communities' desires to preserve and, simultaneously, question and share their identity. And Loulé is no exception.
In 1934, the newspaper O Louletano wrote: "There are all sorts of objects scattered around the civil parishes of this municipality, which with (...) a bit of good will, tenacity and some money, could make up, if not an exemplary museum, at least a decent one."
Three decades later, in a speech which he made at the Casa do Algarve in 1960, José António Madeira, geographer and astronomer from Loulé, affirmed that, "Libraries and museums should not be concentrated only in large centres, leaving small cities and towns on the fringes of these cultural institutions."
From the setting-up committee to the museum
The dream began to come true in 1978, when the Pro-Museum and Archive Committee was formed. The committee members were Father João Coelho Cabanita, José Mendes Bota, António José Palma Clareza, Eduardo Arsénio and João Corpas Viegas. The group was committed to collaborating with the Municipal Council in the organisation of the initial structure of the planned museum and the organisation of the archive and the library. Additionally, they planned to carry out the inventory and classification of the existing archaeological collection. Effectively, this committee was to play a decisive role in the task of gathering items that could become part of the museum's collection, drawing up a document called Descriptive record of the castle buildings and outhouses (as per plans) and their use.
In 1979, the idea of housing the archive and the museum in the alcaidaria of the castle was put forward.
In 1983, the Municipal Committee for the Protection of Heritage was formed and, two years later, on 27 June, the Friends of Loulé Museum Group met at Quinta do Lago, Almancil, presided by André Jordan.
On 25 March 1985, a first project to set up a museum was put forward by António Nabais and Isilda Martins.
The Museum since 1995
The idea of creating a dedicated museum space for the municipality's archaeological collection finally became a reality in the 1990s and, for the last thirty years, our museum has been a work in progress. Designed by Mário Varela Gomes, it was officially inaugurated on 25 May 1995. Since then, however, the life, design and transformation of our territorial museum have continued to evolve... giving rise to the decentralised hubs: The Traditional Kitchen (1991), Dried Fruit and Nuts (1998), Salir (2002), Alte (2009), and Water, in Querença (2012).
From January 2014 to January 2016, the team at Loulé Municipal Museum carried out a series of mandatory tasks with a view to obtaining accreditation as a member of the Portuguese Museums Network. The most significant of these were: organising the museological reserves; inventory of the collections; staff training; creation of the Museum's logo; preparation of obligatory documents; computerisation of the ticket office; and the contracting of a senior conservation and restoration technician.
Once all of these tasks had been completed, another dream came true on 27 January 2016, when the application to the Portuguese Museums Network was submitted to the Directorate General for Cultural Heritage in Lisbon.