Portimão’s museum of influence

fish canning exhibition portimao museum

This year sees the publication of the first edition of Revisiting Museums of Influence by British publisher Routledge. Included in the 50 most influential European museums is Portimão’s museum – Museu de Portimão.


Built on the site of a fish-canning factory, Museu de Portimão houses three permanent exhibits; Portimão – Território e Identidade (Portimão – Territories and Identity), A Vida Industrial e o Desafio do Mar (Industrial Life and Challenges of the Sea) and Do Fundo das Águas (Under Water). There are also temporary exhibits such as photography, the making of olive oil and masks used in theatre productions.

The largest permanent exhibit is the sardine canning process. Visitors can follow the whole process; from the river through deheading, cleaning, canning, cooking etc. Even the tin presses can be seen with the various tin moulds.

Portimão was also home to Manuel Teixeira Gomes (1860-1941) who was President of Portugal between 1923 and 1925. His passion however, was writing and travelling all shown in the exhibit that includes various artefacts and an easy-to-follow biography.

Other exhibits show the workings of Portimão’s shipyards, the prehistoric communities of Alcalar and also the Islamic and Roman presence in the region. The three, 17th century cannon have been classified as National Treasures by the Portuguese national culture board (DGPC).

Visitors can also walk down into the factory’s old cistern where slide shows of flora and fauna, found along the Arade river and the region’s coastline, run as visitors walk through. 

Virtual visits

A recent innovation allows virtual visits using the museum’s app, available to download from Googleplay. Skip the demonstration and click on each icon, an explanation will appear (there are also audible options) with the app offering explanations in five languages including English. 

On the museum’s website, you will find a wealth of information. There is a walk through history with images and explanations of Portimão’s port and river banks, educational games and activities such as discovering 7 differencesgames for children (and adults too) including mazes.

Interested in history? Gem up of some local Algarve history and culture and learn more about the Algarve coastline’s defenses of old.

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