Museum of Macau

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Description

Situated on the South coast of China, the territory of Macao currently houses a numerous population which since the beginning the 80’s has not ceased to increase as a result of the intense immigration arriving from the People's Republic of China. This influx of new residents brings people to the cities in search of better working opportunities and a brighter future for them and their families, many of whom wait patiently in their remote villages in China. The current population of Macao is estimated at around 450,000 inhabitants, predominantly Chinese (93%) followed by the Portuguese community (5%) and other residents of different origins like Filipino’s and Thai’s. This universal aspect of the city of Macao has been ingrained during the course of four and a half centuries of peaceful cohabitation from a population with a vocation for commercial trade in this strategic port at the mouth of the Pearl River which gives access to the prosperous city of Canton, generating indelible characteristics which until today still exist in the socio-cultural network of this society, the visible testimony is through the city’s urban mesh and architecture of it’s many buildings. However, the accelerated economic, cultural and technological transformations which have been noted in all of Asia, in particular China are all reflected in Macao through the image of the city which has been witness to a historical backdrop begin to rapidly change and risk in the short term of loosing all its resulting characteristics of its cross cultural Asian and Western cultures. For this reason it became necessary to urgently take steps of protecting, conserving and valuing of the existing patrimony preventing the deterioration of the image and unique identity of the city, subject to the pressures of property development and speculation, moreover the social requirements resulting from the populations constant expansion and demand on housing. This recent growing is reflected in the current characteristics of the territories population where it is estimated that around 50% have arrived and been living in Macao over the last fifteen years, therefore being a population of recent immigrants of which the majority are Chinese who came to Macao with the intention of enjoying better living conditions but who’s cultural regards have little or nothing to do with where they live, naturally located in their birth places some of which are far from Macao and considerably different cultures. Macao is a small territory without any natural resources, with a laboring population suffering from the competition of neighboring markets where the labor is much cheaper and therefore much more competitive, so that which remains is tourism based on cultural and historical identity unmatchable in the rest of Asia, made up of its great patrimony which should be preserved and revitalised and which in the future will make this city different from that which remains in the vast Orient. It is in the best interests that the future of Macao and its populations can defend their social and cultural values, maintain and enrich their valuable heritage of four and a half centuries of harmonious socialising between two such different cultures. That the foundations for the creations in Macao of Natural Museological Institutions that reflect not just the history of the territory but equally the socio-cultural characteristics of its population, attempting to create a lively establishment, operational and essentially orientated by the following programmatic objectives. - To promote a greater understanding and interest in Macao’s unique cultural and historical heritage through a programme of exhibitions, lectures, publications, research and extension services. - To create and develop collections related to Macao’s archaeology, local history, natural history, ethnography and ethnology. - To serve, through research and study as a centre of learning for citizens by providing them with a vivid environment of discovery, learning and problem solving in matters related to Macao’s cultural and historical heritage. - To co-operate and assist in the recording, preservation and display of items related to the historical and significance of Macao with special emphasis on interchanges between Macao and other countries. - To co-operate and assist in the study and dissemination of knowledge related to Macao’s cultural and historical heritage with learned societies within the outside Macao. Having established the programmatic foundations for the new museum which is called “The Museum of Macao”. An extensive survey was made of all possible hypothesis of the location of the future museum, highlighted amongst them was the Monte fortress as being the most symbolic and historical location in view of the intended objectives. The ancient fortification built by the Jesuit Fathers in 1626, on the peak of the Monte Hill, perched high above the city centre was the chosen location for the Museum of Macao. This Fortress built in a quadrilateral shape with four bastions in the corners and thick exterior walls made from “chunambo”, or taipa, a highly resistant material made from mortar containing sand, lime, fragments of shells and crushed oysters. The Museum of Macao began planning in April 1995, construction was initiated in September 1996, and it was inaugurated on the 18 April 1998. The museum building in itself implanted within the interior of the fortress and the third floor above the soil level of the Fortress interior. Its total area is 2,800 meters square from which around 2,100 meters square is exhibition space. The administrative building, already on the exterior of the fortress but joined to the Museum by way of a tunnel with escalators that pass under the walls, contains the technical and administrative offices of the museum as well as the management and technician centre security headquarters, auditorium, etc. The exterior areas of the administration building which has the total area of 2,300 meters square house the museum shop and bar with esplanade to service the public and visitors. As far as the thematic areas that The Museum of Macao features, they are divided into three main groups corresponding to each one of the three floors of the Museum building.







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