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Versão Portuguesa

Folk Art Museum

The Folk Art Museum in Belém originated in a number of pavilions depicting everyday life of the Portuguese people designed between 1938 and 1940 by António Maria Veloso Reis Camelo and João Simões for the Exhibition of the Portuguese World in 1940. At the time the decoration of the pavilions was temporary, even if it was the work of some of biggest names in the Portuguese art world, such as the artists and decorators D. Tomaz de Mello (Tom), Fred Kradolfer, Carlos Botelho, Bernardo Marques, Emmérico Nunes, José Rocha, Estrela Faria, Paulo Ferreira and Eduardo Anahory and the sculptors Barata Feyo and Henrique Moreira.

After the exhibition, at the decision of António Ferro, director of the National Information Secretariat, the Folk Art Museum was set up on the site (inaugurated in 1948), with the space being adapted by the architect Jorge Segurado, who had already worked on the exhibition (as architect for the Portuguese Villages pavilion). Segurado developed a museological design that was innovative at the time not only in Portugal, but also at the international level. It exhibited the excellent collection of folk art the museum had gathered in the best, most advanced conditions possible. The design integrated architecture, sculpture and painting in a single modernist programme of high quality that presented itself, above all, as a lasting testimony of the exhibition of 1940, as well as the ideology behind it. Under the coordination of the National Propaganda Secretariat, the pavilions at the exhibition together reflected the authoritarian Estado Novo's vision of a mythical and quaint rural life heavily imbued with strong paternalist historicism; but it also reflected the interest that had emerged at the beginning of the century in Europe in the theme of the countryside, the village and traditions of the people.

The Museum complex underwent diverse works interventions over the decades, including demolition of one part of the building. Since 2000 remodelling work has been carried out in phases on the Museum, which has not yet been completed.