As you may recall from earlier posts museums have been a bit hit and miss for us. One of our few positive experiences was Museu da Ruralidade in Entradas, and it was partly because of that amazing visit we thought we’d be daring and try another museum!
In March we’d been in São Brás for a fascinating talk by the Archaeological Association of the Algarve in the function rooms of one of the museums and in order to get to the function room we got a few glimpses of the Museu do Trajo. All positive so we were feeling optimistic when we visited in early April.
The museum has three permanent exhibitions, one of which of course is costume. Unfortunately on the day we went they seemed to be in the midst of changing things and so the costume exhibits all felt a bit disjointed. I couldn’t resist taking a photograph though of the American moustache trainer. The museum also has a programme for temporary exhibits. When we visited there were two – a First World War exhibit and one on football. It is after all a national passion here too. The former was very small and dare I admit the football one didn’t interest us! Again I couldn’t resist taking a photograph, this time of some of the footballs hanging from the ceiling.
Not unusually for me my attention was caught by the building and the agricultural exhibits. I’m fascinated by how people lived. Some might say I’m nosey, but I prefer to think I have a passion for everyday culture! The building is one of a few ‘romantic mansions’ in São Brás, and it is wonderful. As you walk around the rooms you can almost imagine what life may have been like for the ‘bourgeois’ in the Algarve in the 19th century. And it is so different to the life we came across in the Algarvian hills, the contrast must have been almost overwhelming for those who help service the house and grounds. The mansion was built by Miguel Dias de Andrade, a 19th century muleteer who owed his wealth to the cork industry. Unfortunately we didn’t come across anything else in the museum* on his life, what it was like living here or any details on the mansion’s construction or decorations.
There was a little bit on the cork industry in the Casa Agricolas, which is where we discovered the muleteers brought down the cork and other goods from Alentejo to the Algarve. Some of them became cork industrialists running the cork factories in Alentejo and the Algarve, which is what, I guess, Miguel Dias de Andrade did.
Whilst I would have liked much more information on the building and also Miguel Dia de Andrade there was sufficient information to keep us occupied for a while. So if you are passing do visit, and if the exhibits or the building don’t tempt you there is a cafe. You could also easily pass a hour or two just sitting on the veranda! If you are staying or live in the area then you might want to sign up for the Friends of the Museum newsletter. They organise some excellent talks as well as run a range of activities from yoga to art to Portuguese lessons. You can find out more by clicking here.
*Since our visit I have learnt that apparently little is known about Miguel Dias de Andrade, his mansion or its construction. I did find this photograph of him on the museum website and on another site found confirmation Miguel Dias de Andrade was a cork industrialist who began his working life transporting goods. It is believed the house was constructed in the late 19th century. One of his descendants was still living there in the 1980’s, and after their death the house was bequeathed to Santa Casa da Misericórdia de S. Brás de Alportel. I find it remarkable how little I’ve found so far especially as a road is named after him. Something for me to follow up perhaps when we return later this year as my tiny bit of research has left me wanting to know more! If you know anything please do leave a comment.