With reduced capacity and constant disinfection, Portugal has plunged into the second phase of its de-escalation plan and – together with terraces, shops and gyms – has reopened its cultural spaces, some with the appeal of the free pass for a month.
Although the country now counts daily deaths from covid on the fingers of one hand, it does not forget that just two months ago it reached more than 300 victims per day, a deep mark for a society that has 16,904 deaths since the pandemic began.
Recover “the trust of citizens” It is essential for museums, he explains to Efe Cultural Heritage of Portugal, which insists that museums are “safe” spaces: they have redesigned their circuits to maintain distance, accesses are controlled and a new purchasing system has been launched online tickets.
In search of lost trust
In the streets of Lisbon there is a atypical silence due to the absence of tourists. Visits to the thirty national museums and palaces that the Tagus city houses have also plummeted. In 2019 they received almost 5 million visitors; a year later, they barely exceeded 1.3 million. The goal now is to make up for lost time.
“Museums are sanitary safe. People have masks and there is no problem, “explains Elisabeta Caramelo, communication director of the Gulbenkian Foundation, to Efe. Before the pandemic, this museum received around half a million annual visitors, 90% foreigners who walked through its permanent exhibition.
Along the same lines, Joaquim Oliveira Caetano, Director of the National Museum of Ancient Art (MNAA) agrees, which receives, on average, 200,000 people every year. “Everything is done: cleaning, disinfection. The spaces are very spacious and there is disinfectant everywhere. Museums are indeed very safe places for visitors, “he says.
When Portugal returned to confinement in January, the museums closed their doors but they remained “in full activity” internal, working on restoration, conservation and programming tasks, sources of Cultural Heritage point out. Work behind closed doors has resulted in various exhibitions that will be exhibited during this month. The first, ‘Idolos’, a co-production with Spain that was inaugurated on Friday at the National Museum of Archeology by the Spanish Minister of Culture, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, and his Portuguese counterpart, Graça Fonseca.
The premieres will take place in the coming weeks for attract tourists and Portuguese, such as the one prepared by the Gulbenkian on women artists protected by the Portuguese Presidency of the EU. As an incentive, in addition, a long list of museums and cultural venues in Lisbon will have free admission for a month and the entities prepare parties, terraces and online activities.
“Lisbon was one of the main tourist cities in the world and it has been one that has suffered the most with this difficulty of travel,” laments Caetano, who hopes that the reopening will encourage the Portuguese to return to museums.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.