The Madeira Photography Museum – “Atelier Vicente’s” is based on one of the two only nineteenth-century photography studios in Portugal.
Originally acquired by Vicente Gomes da Silva (1827-1906) in 1865, it has among its collections, scenarios, cameras, specialized furniture, frames with original photographs, books on photographic techniques and a valuable photographic archive, with around one and a million and a half of copies, which date back to the fifties of the 19th century, in addition to having a nucleus related to cinema.
In the 19th century, with the ships that docked in Madeira, new ideas and techniques also arrived, making the way for the emergence of photographic studios, such as Vicentes Photographos, João Francisco Camacho, Augusto Maria Camacho, Perestrellos Photographos, Augusto César dos Santos and his partner Joaquim Augusto de Sousa.
The history of “Atelier Vicente’s” goes back to 1848, the year in which Vicente Gomes da Silva began his professional activity as an engraver, in “Praça de São João”. His technical skills were recognized on April 27, 1853, when he received the boon of “engraver” of His Majesty the Empress of Brazil, Duchess of Bragança, widow of D. Pedro IV, King of Portugal and first Emperor of Brazil. In addition to recording, he develops other activities, namely binding, carpentry, typography and foundry.
His foray into photography took place around 1852, when he acquired a camera in London for 3 pounds, through the vice-consul of France, José António Monteiro Teixeira.
He begins his photographic activity at his residence located at “Rua de João Tavira”, later moving to “Rua da Ponte Nova”. On May 27, 1865, he acquired the property at “Rua dos Pintos”, now “Rua da Carreira”, where he established his residence and built his photographic studio there, initially in wood. Between December 1886 and August 1887, Vicente Gomes da Silva and his son Vicente Júnior, redesigned the old studio, which is benefited and expanded in the way we know it today.
Atelier Vicente’s received two important distinctions for his photographic works, the first of which was awarded in 1866 by the Austro-Hungarian empire, following the portrait of Empress Elizabeth D’Austria (1837–1898), more commonly known as “Sissi”, that Vicente Gomes da Silva captured in 1860, having been awarded the title “Photographe de Sa Majesté I’Impératrice d’Austriche”. In 1903, his son, Vicente Júnior, was awarded the title “Photographo da Casa Real Portuguesa”, for his photographic records of D. Carlos de Bragança (1863-1908) and Queen D. Amélia de Orléans (1865- 1951) on the occasion of the royal visit to the Madeira Island in 1901.
The “Atelier Vicente’s” maintained its commercial activity for four generations, until the seventies of the 20th century, when it stopped operating. The Regional Government of Madeira, acquired in 1979 the entire collection of this studio, which after being re-qualified as a museum, was inaugurated on March 22, 1982, changing its name to “Photographia – Museu “Vicentes””. In 2014, the museum closed for requalification works and reopened on July 29, 2019, now renamed as the “Museu de Fotografia da Madeira”. In addition to maintaining the memory of the original Atelier, it is now asserting itself as the only national museum entirely dedicated to photography, revealing Madeira’s photographic heritage and many of its unknown authors and works.
Currently, the Museum’s collection includes not only the Vicente’s collection, but also the remains of other professional and amateur photographers such as João António Bianchi (Visconde Vale Paraíso) (1862–1928); Major Charles Courtney Shaw (1878–1971); Gino Romoli (1906–1982); Aluízio César Bettencourt (1838-1895) or João Francisco Camacho (1833-1898) (in study the authorship of the images); Perestrellos Photographos; Augusto João Soares (1885-1970); Francisco João Barreto (1877-1934); Álvaro Crawford Nascimento Figueira (1885–1967); Alexander Lamont Henderson (1838–1907); Joaquim Augusto de Sousa (1853–1905); João Anacleto Rodrigues (1869–1948); Figueiras photo; Photo Art; Photo Joaquim Figueira; Russel Manners Gordon (3rd Viscount and 1st Count Torre Bela) (1829–1906); Artur Campos; Carlos Photographer; Alberto Camacho Brandão (1884–1945); Foto Sol (from 1951 to 1980).
The audiovisual material of the Regional Directorate for Tourism / Regional Secretariat for Tourism and Transport is also deposited in the Museum, a collection that includes films – documentaries – by: Hélder Mendes, João Pestana, António de Sousa, Luís Cabrita, among others.
In this new format, the museum presents, in addition to the reconstitution of the studio, a presentation of the history of photographic processes, from the daguerreotype to the first color photographs, including the magic lantern devices and stereoscopy.
It now offers a permanent exhibition space representative of the various authors included in the collection, which includes the collection of practically all the great Madeiran photography houses of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as another temporary exhibition, which will display news on a regular basis.
– Coffee shop (opening soon)
– Multimedia Room, where is being shown a small slide show about illustrious visitors and a documentary film, usually about Madeira Island.
– Educational Services – is essentially aimed to promote the museum and its collection to the local public and the regional community.
It is intended to benefit from the museum’s potential as an educational vehicle and through a creative approach to photographic heritage, awakening the critical sense and aesthetic sensitivity.
Our annual program offers activities aimed at various audiences, from children to the elderly, at various times of the year, such as school holidays and ephemeris, and readjust, whenever necessary, to initiatives in favor of the specificities and characteristics of the groups that visit us.
The current program includes guided tours, pedagogical workshops on analogue photography (in black and white), plastic expression related to photography, various recreational activities, photography contests and temporary exhibitions.
♿🟢 – Accessibility: Easy ( Access depends on lift )