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Madeira Museum of Photography reopens after €1.7m refurbishment

The Madeira Museum of Photography - Atelier Vicente's - the only museum in Portugal entirely dedicated to photography, reopened on 29 July, after a five years and 1.7 million euros of work.

We are talking about a nineteenth-century photography studio, the oldest in the country, which has gone through four generations of the same family. We are talking about a heritage that says a lot to the Madeirans, was part of the daily life and experience of Madeira” said Paula Cabaco, the Secretary of Tourism and Culture.

Vicente's Atelier, now renamed the Madeira Museum of Photography, was founded in 1863 by Vicente Gomes da Silva and remained operational until 1978, when the building, in the centre of Funchal, and the estate, with more than 1.5 million negatives were acquired by the Regional Government of Madeira.

In 1866, three years after the opening of the house, Vicente Gomes da Silva received the title of photographer of the Empress of Austria, Isabel of Bavaria, the mythical Sissi, and in 1903, the photographer of the Portuguese Royal House, which also contributed more for its importance, making its studio one of the best equipped of the nineteenth century 

The space was opened to the public in 1982 as a museum and in 2014 it closed for works, with the executive investing 1.2 million euros in the rehabilitation of the building and 500 thousand euros, with a community contribution of 85%, in the restoration and safeguarding of the collection.

The space reopens with a temporary exhibition, until October, entitled Treasures of Portuguese Photography from the 19th century , while maintaining a permanent exhibition representing the various authors included in the collection, which is part of the collection of practically every large house. Madeirans of photography of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Secretary of Tourism and Culture highlighted the investment made in the “faithful reconstruction” of the studio, namely in terms of furniture, props, laboratory material and cameras, indicating that visitors will even be able to be photographed with scenes of the time. Paula Cabaço explained that the studio's reconstitution also includes a presentation of the history of photographic processes, from the daguerreotype to the first colour photographs, through the magic lantern devices and stereoscopy (immersive format then very fashionable in the 19th century, which gives the feeling within the image even though it was too far from the current 3D effect).

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