Thieves plunder Silves Cork Museum

The award-winning cork museumin Silves, consideredan important showcase of Portuguese culture but closed and abandoned since 2009, is being plundered systematically by thieves and vandals.

The robberies of metal and other equipment and damage caused in the building, which is integrated with the Fábrica do Inglês, has prompted the museum director to appeal for more police vigilance and action by the local municipality to stamp out the pillaging.

Apart from stripping electrical wires and other metal fittings, intruders have stolen computers, heating units and dismantled cigarette and drinks machines to steal the contents.

Earlier this month, executives from the Silves municipal authority and the GNR visited the premises to assess the gravity of the situation.

A GNR spokesman said later that they are carrying out a full investigation into the break-ins.

The museum contains exhibits carefully selected to illustrate the history of the cork industry and an action group comprising the local authority and the owners has been called upon to find a solution in order to preserve the museum’s remains and heritage.

In 2001, the Silves Cork Museum was awarded the title of the Best European Industrial Museum and, at that time, 100,000 people visited the museum. It closed for financial reasons.

The Fábrica do Inglês is owned by the Alicoop group, recently acquired by the Nogueira group, and despite closure four years ago, it has not been declared insolvent.