The committee’s decision was motivated by the success story of the museum, the relevance of its theme and the extent of its educational programme to the benefit of the local community. The Portimão Museum housed in a former sardine canning factory on the estuary of the Arade River has successfully restored the industrial/historical heritage of the Portimão area.
Its permanent exhibition traces the interaction of man with his environment over a period of five millennia, with particular emphasis on the sardine canning industry. Underwater archaeology also plays a special role, with an extensive collection of items that have been recovered from the River Arade during successive underwater research projects, such as sunken ships from civilisations dating back over three millennia.
Portimão Museum has succeeded in increasing awareness of cultural identity in a region very much dominated by mass tourism.
The Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded annually since 1977 to a museum judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding of European cultural heritage. Museums in the 49 countries of the European Cultural Convention are eligible to enter for the prize.
The winning museum will be presented with a bronze statuette, “La femme aux beaux seins” by Joan Miró, which the museum will keep for a year, as well as a diploma and a cheque for 5,000 euros. The presentation ceremony will take place in Strasbourg in April, during the Parliamentary Assembly’s spring session.
The prize is decided by the Committee on Culture, Science and Education of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on the basis of a shortlist presented by a jury of the European Museum Forum, and forms part of the European Museum of the Year Awards.
Recent winners include Zeeuws Museum in the Netherlands (2009), Norway’s Svalbard Museum (2008) and Geneva’s International Museum of the Reformation (2007).