The Collection: Richness and Diversity
Between 1937 and 1955 the Ducal Palace was being rebuilt but its future function wasn’t known.
In 1955, a «Furniture Commission» was assembled in order furnish the Palace as if it was a household so it could host State events.
In a «descriptive memory» from 1956 the Architect Luís Benavente summarized the understanding of the works in the Palace and the purpose of the buillding.
The document pinpoints that it was meant to recreate a 15th century Palace but, as the monument was not only to be seen but also to be experienced, there was a need to create areas that didn’t exist in the Medieval Ages. Furthermore, considering that it would be difficult to acquire pieces from the 15th century, it was decided to resort to pieces from other Museums and Palaces and, temperately, with some replicas.
After the reconstruction, the Ducal Palace gained a double function: a visiting place open to public and an Official Residence of the Portuguese President.
Predominantly, the collection incorporates pieces gathered in the 1950s from antiquarians and several National Museums.
The objects furnish the chambers of the permanent exhibition, fostering the idea that visitours are in a household. Most are from the 17th and 18th centuries, so one may be delighted with a noticeable collection including textiles, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, weapons, among others.
Most of all, it was essential that the building was used so it wouldn’t be neglected nor «depreciated».
The statement below clearly depicts the mindset:
“In order to determine the mould in which the Ducal Palace of the Bragança, in Guimarães, would be furnished, we firstly established a conception on its purpose (…).
Thank you, for such a Palace should not be devised to be seen but to be “experienced”. This allows to draw a use for the facilities that didn’t exist when the Palace was built, as the dining chamber and the current ordination, and the others. But this isn’t the only advantage, first and foremost it would not be possible to reconstitute, without great expenditure and almost insurmountable difficulties, the ambiance of the time (…). Moreover, the completion of the endeavor urges the usage of such an important building, whose depreciation would be imminent and consequent if there is no purpose for it or if it is closed.
A practical mean of usage (…) allows it progress to a period in which it will be possible, resorting to museums, its deposits and Palaces, to have a start point for the remainder. We absolutely rely on this base for it assures success (…).
The original pieces are focal with which the Ducal Palace of the Bragança, in Guimarães, will be furnished. The hundred chairs for the great dining hall will have to be replicas, compliant with the model deemed befitting. (…)” Luís Benavente (Lisbon, June 25, 1956).