Minutes into Bank Holiday Monday April 25, President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa opened Portugal’s first interactive museum dedicated to innovation and freedom of expression.
Declaring it a “triumph of April 25” (the anniversary of the bloodless ‘Carnation Revolution’), he also said it was”a celebration of what Portugal is today”.
Flanked by prime minister António Costa, and PSD leader Pedro Passos Coelho, Marcelo expertly dodged journalists’ questions about the “lack of achievement of the promises of the revolution” 42 years ago, saying the new space in the heart of historic Sintra was proof that Portuguese people are exceptional.
There is still a lot to do, he conceded, but the country has already achieved “a great deal”.
“In five years time I would like to see a retrospective of a richer, fairer, more developed country – better integrated within Europe and the rest of the world”, he added.
The director of the new museum, Ricardo Moita de Deus, has spoken to Sol about what he hopes the space will mean to people.
It doesn’t have a target audience, he explained. It is designed to appeal to everyone and anyone interested in the history of a country that leapt into the 20th century in 1974 after 37 years of repression and dictatorship.
“Museums showing press troves already exist”, he told Sol. “But there was nothing on narratives, and the stories of history. The NewsMuseum is designed to be updated whenever the news demands. It is a vehicle to recount stories”.
Housed in the same building that used to hold the magical Toy Museum, exhibits and installations cover three floors and include areas dedicated to propaganda, different journalistic styles, “bad news”, “mind games”, photojournalism and “wars”.
Visitors will be introduced to a “permanent shrine” to national journalists and a “virtual reality space” centred on the future of communication.
In a replica of the studio of Radio Clube Português – from which the Revolution was minutely covered all those years ago – there is a copy of the original text of the communiqué issued by armed forces in the early hours of April 25 1974.
But perhaps the most impressive aspect of all are the 360º tactile screen in the iArena lounge, dedicated to multiple aspects of Portuguese journalism, along with the metallic tower, stretching all three floors and holding 70 monitors (the so-called Pyramid of Babel), each one connected to the world’s leading new channels.
With up-to-the-minute news being flashed on one of the walls in real time, the museum promises to be a treasure trove of material showing “the capacity for the media not just BE story tellers but also shape history”.
Moita de Deus elaborated: “History is made through writing. When news stories are written, they are also stories of the times – and then there are moments, like the one depicted in our area dubbed “duels” in which the media helps make history”.
Sintra’s NewsMuseum is open daily from 9.30, with tickets for children costing €4, adults: €8 and students: €3.75. The entry fee for families, irrespective of the number of children, is €20.