HistoryThe Transport and Communications Museum (MTC), located in the 19th-century, neo-classical New Customs House Building of Oporto, is under the tutelage of the Association for the Transport and Communications Museum (AMTC, a not-for-profit organisation of public utility, set up in 1992).
The Museum belongs to and participates in several museum networks, both nationally (MC2P; Portuguese Museum Network; BAD – Libraries, Records and Documentation), and internationally (IATM – International Association of Transport and Communications Museums; IACM – International Association of Customs Museums).
The renovation project for this historic Building has been underway since 1993, under the supervision of the architect Eduardo Souto de Moura (Pritzker Prize 2011). The main focus is to set up the facilities required to create a modern, multi-faceted and multi-functional cultural space, at the same time as highlighting all the distinguishing elements of the characteristic architecture of a customs house, what they mean in terms of work routines and their symbolism for the direct users, the nearby population and the city and region in general.
Safeguarding cultural heritage is thus understood not only at the level of the themes the Museum deals with, but also in terms of the building that houses it. A unique example of the city’s built heritage, the building has been permanently restored to receive the Museum’s visitors, while also offering an international congress centre involving over 250,000 people a year, which is considered a key factor in the AMTC’s sustainability.
It is therefore important to mention the AMTC’s contribution to local development through the economical benefits it brings as a result of the permanent circulation of people who visit the place (contributing significantly towards the development of the local socio-economic fabric). On the other hand, the Museum also plays an important role in terms of its permanent relationship with its neighbours, the local community, through various partnerships, as well as developing related projects (memory and identity projects, direct involvement and participation in the Museum’s activity, contribution to broadening the themes approached).
Taking on board the social function of the museum as an active and strategic partner in the process of creating increasingly informed and active citizens, the MTC also focuses on producing exhibition projects that are relevant to the widest possible public and which will captivate them in unique moments of challenge, knowledge, reflection and transformation concerning the surrounding reality through multiple strategies of cultural mediation: independent tours, guided tours, workshops, multi-sensory interactive experiences, exploratory routes through the Building’s interior and exterior spaces, among others. The Museum’s philosophy is to be accessible and inclusive, conveyed by the physical, cognitive and emotional characteristics it promotes through a flexible and proactive attitude.
Technology plays an important role: not only is it immediately present in the Museum’s themes (transport and communications), but it is also a key factor in its behind-the-scenes work (collection management, educational services, document management), support for exhibition contents (audio-visual, interactive, multimedia), as well as in communication with the public through web 2.0 social networks, promoting proposals for participation and constant challenge.