Silves’ cork museum is still waiting for financial support to be able to opens its doors to the public, after three years of near abandonment.
The Museu da Cortiça, located within the grounds of the financially troubled Fábrica do Inglês, received in 2001 the Industrial Museum of Europe award and annual visitor numbers have reached 100,000.
Today, the site is practically abandoned with no water or electricity and exterior pavements, now taken over by weeds, showing “a total lack of interest by all entities in the museum,” said its still director Manuel Ramos.
A new status for Fábrica do Inglês was the museum’s only hope of seeing its contents preserved, but even the ‘building of municipal interest’ status given by Silves Câmara appears to be insufficient to safeguard the largest collection of documents relating to the cork industry in the world.
The Museu da Cortiça was inaugurated in 1999 after redevelopment works to transform the old Avern, Sons & Barris factory into the museum building. At the time, local business people invested €12.5 million in the project, with €500,000 coming from the EU.
Manuel Ramos is now considering setting up a ‘Friends of the Cork Museum’ group to save the building.